GI Bill did not benefit all veterans equally

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To the Editor:

On Wednesday, June 22, in the introduction of The MV Times Minute, you reported that “on this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill, which was legislation aimed at compensating the returning members of the military who served in WWII. The bill included low-interest loans for home ownership, business, and funding for education.”

This sweeping bill promised prosperity to veterans. But Black American veterans did not benefit from this GI Bill. While the bill did not specifically exclude Black American veterans from its benefits, it was structured in such a way as to ultimately shut doors for the 1.2 million Black veterans, who had bravely served their country, in segregated ranks. Black veterans were denied access to mortgages; banks generally would not make loans for mortgages in Black neighborhoods, and the Black veterans were excluded from the suburbs by covenants and racism. They were denied college tuition, which would have enabled them to go to college and earn degrees that could help them get good jobs upon completion. Black veterans largely were denied a chance to participate in the postwar economic boom, which saw white wealth surge and created the white middle class.

The real part of the story is that white veterans were able to begin creating wealth through education, good-paying jobs, and home ownership. Black veterans were denied most of those benefits. Compounded over 80 years, the disparity in wealth, and benefits of inherited wealth, is immense. 

Rita Brown
Edgartown