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Prof gives GI’s wives a voice

‘Tiger Brides’ documentary to screen

Published: Monday, February 24, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 24, 2014 23:02

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Valerie Hill-Jackson draws inspiration from her mother-in-law, Patricia Ann Ismail (pictured).

After 70 years of silence, the GI brides of Tiger Bay are getting a chance to add their legacy to WWII history.

Valerie Hill-Jackson, a clinical associate professor in the department of teaching, learning and culture at Texas A&M recently created the documentary film, “Tiger Brides: Memories of Love and War from the G.I. Brides of Tiger Bay,” which illuminates the untold stories of six brides from Cardiff, Wales, who crossed the Atlantic to be with their African-American GIs. The office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity at Texas A&M will be hosting a screening at of the film at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.

Tiger Bay is a half-square mile, multi-cultural community, Hill-Jackson wrote in a blog entry. The diverse community of Tiger Bay offered a place for black GIs to experience civil liberties they were denied in the U.S., she said.  
“When they came to town they weren’t judged by the color of their skin,” Hill-Jackson said. “They were just Americans, not black Americans.”

Hill-Jackson said black GIs courted and married a documented 101 women from Tiger Bay — an incredible number in consideration of the town’s small size.

Hill-Jackson said some of these marriages suffered when the brides returned with their husbands to the U.S. The Tiger Brides faced racism and segregation that they had not been subjected to in their inclusive Welsh community, she said, which spelled the end of many of the marriages and led many homesick women to return to Cardiff.

Hill-Jackson said she drew inspiration from the women in her family. Hill-Jackson’s mother-in-law, Patricia Ann Ismail was a Tiger Bride and her grandmother, Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, was the president of the NAACP Baltimore chapter for 35 years until her retirement in 1970.

Hill-Jackson said the documentary is important because it shines a light on people who have been largely marginalized in history.

“Our LGBT kids, our kids who speak another language, our kids that are Latino, our kids that are Asian, our kids who are poor, our kids who are African-American, they are all looking for, ‘Where am I in the history book?’” Hill-Jackson said. “That’s why we need to make sure we include these diverse perspectives.”

Hill-Jackson said her ultimate goal is to create meaningful and authentic work.

“It should touch and transform lives in a way that makes people think differently or be inspired to do great work,” Hill-Jackson said.

Jennifer Leblanc, curriculum and instruction graduate student, said the documentary will speak to both college students and younger students.


“She didn’t just write a book,” Leblanc said. “She made a documentary. That is so relevant to the millennial generation.”


Katie Sewell, colleague, family friend and Class of 2006, said the documentary has something that will appeal to everyone.


“Whether you like history, you like education, you like female rights — it will spark your interest,” Sewell said.

 

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