Who Were Basil and Becky?

BASIL AND BECKY were siblings who valued family, education, and hard work; both were children during the Great Depression. "Becky," my Mom, was a World War II "Rosie the Riveter," and "Uncle Basil" was a Navy veteran. Both of them encouraged my brothers and me to be courageous in pursuit of our dreams. Today, their legacies live on through the Basil and Becky Educational Foundation.

Words From Our Allies

“The people of the Netherlands will never forget the debt of gratitude owed to the United States for its role in our liberation during World War II. As we celebrate 75 years of freedom, the work of African American ‘Rosies’ deserves to be recognized as well. These extraordinary women did not wear a military uniform but they served the nation and the war effort. Whether they worked on assembly lines or in government offices, their service must be honored. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is pleased to support ‘Invisible Warriors.’ This documentary sheds light on the not too distant past and reveals a history that cannot be forgotten.” —André Haspels, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
“Thank you so much for sharing your documentary Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II. We also appreciate that you were able to bring the personal experience of Mrs. King to our audience. Hearing from both of you directly was indeed powerful. The feedback that we have gotten has also been incredible. I hope you were able to see the outpouring of love and respect for the film and for Mrs. Taylor in the chat as the film aired. So many people said they had no idea that there was a hidden story behind “Rosie the Riveter” and the significant contributions that African-American women made to the economic security of our country.” —Wendy Chun-Hoon, Director Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor
Invisible Warriors tells the important story of women who have been ignored for too long due to their race, gender, and class. African American “Rosie the Riveters” highlight the resilience, tenacity, dedication, and pride of a people, with lessons that transcend the barriers between us and that resonant today.” —Amber Mitchell, Asst. Director of Public Engagement, The National World War II Museum
“Too often, the lives and contributions of African American women are either footnotes in history books or totally erased from accounts of this country’s past that the majority of Americans see in textbooks and on the screen. In his inspiring documentary, Invisible Warriors, filmmaker Gregory S. Cooke empowers ‘Black Rosies’ to tell their own stories – fully, honestly, and unapologetically. Finally, our African American sheroes of World War II are revealed for the world to see, hear, and celebrate.” —Clarissa Myrick-Harris, PhD, Chair, Humanities Division and Professor of Africana Studies, Morehouse College
“We are so thrilled to recognize Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II with a Better Angels Lavine Fellowship Award. This new fellowship program is a part of the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, which recognizes excellence in American history documentary filmmaking. Our goal is to collaborate with filmmakers telling America’s stories and provide them with resources and support. Like the Lavine Family, who makes this fellowship possible, we at The Better Angels Society recognize that our democracy is strengthened and enriched when more Americans see films like Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II.” —Courtney Chapin, Executive Director, The Better Angels Society
“In Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II documentary historian Gregory S. Cooke has created a path-breaking and powerful presentation of the neglected history of the multitude of African American women who labored in the domestic war economy during World War II. Its candid and moving interviews with these “Hidden Figures” of the “greatest generation,” contextualized with film from the era, show their contribution to the war effort in industry and government work despite the overt and often violent racism of the times. This brilliant documentary should be required viewing for all who wish to understand fully the concept of ‘Rosie the Riveter’.” —John H. Morrow, Jr. Ph.D. (Franklin Professor of History) The University of Georgia
Invisible Warriors is a significant and valuable documentary on the contributions of African American women to the war effort and the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II. It further demonstrates how African Americans, particularly women, contributed to the Allied victory while improving their lives, families and the economic success of the black community. We must not forget these courageous women and allow their legacy to disappear in the annals of time.” —Marcus S. Cox, MBA, Ph.D. Professor of History, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Xavier University, New Orleans
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II illuminates the life experiences of our foremothers who endured racism and sexism to pave the way for Black women and women of color to be gainfully employed today.” —Julene Allen, Founder Lean in Women of Color
Invisible Warriors gives us rare insight into the experiences of Black women of this era in African American history. Kudos to Gregory S. Cooke for his gift to help us learn of our past and build toward a brighter future.” —Linda James-Myers, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II fills a void in American history and contributes greatly to scholarly discourse on the intersection of race and gender during World War II and beyond.” —Brenda L. Moore, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, University at Buffalo (SUNY)
Invisible Warriors, the inspiring story of America’s previously nameless Black ‘Rosies’, is an important film in bringing long overdue honor and recognition to vital members of our nation’s ‘Greatest Generation’.” Holly Rotondi, Executive Director, Friends of the National World War II Memorial “Invisible Warriors is a powerful, important – indeed essential – documentary project.” —Darlene Clark Hine, Ph.D., Northwestern University
Invisible Warriors brought to life the powerful contribution of women of color to the war effort. More than that, the movie vividly demonstrates the impact these African American women had on the fight for equality and justice at home and secured their part of America’s Greatest Generation.” —RADM Sinclair Harris, US Navy (Retired), President of the National Naval Officers Association
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II recovers the formerly unrepresented stories of African American women who worked in diverse positions during World War II. Through their first-person accounts, this documentary captures the amazing narratives of African American women who broke through racial barriers and assumed central roles as they contributed to the war effort.” —Diane D. Turner, Ph.D., Curator, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II provides an indispensable historical account of the significant, but often overlooked, contributions that African American women made to the war effort. Invisible Warriors is thorough, comprehensive, interesting and informative. Viewers will learn much about this neglected part of our nation’s history and the heroic women who persevered and were, indeed, “invisible warriors.” —Barbara A. Brown, Librarian – Free Library of Philadelphia – Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
Invisible Warriors, much like the award-winning film Hidden Figures, provides a much needed, untold story about the contributions of African American women to our nation’s history. This film is an excellent resource on the World War II-era for high school and collegiate classrooms.” —Joshua K. Wright, Ph.D., Global Affairs, Trinity Washington University
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II shines a spotlight on the often-ignored contributions of African American women to the Homefront effort during WWII. Documentarian, Gregory S. Cooke, brings to life the experiences of African American “Rosie the Riveters” and their contributions to breaking the double barrier of race and gender in the workplace. The documentary is a meaningful lens into a hidden history, made powerful and inspiring by offering the viewer an opportunity to meet and hear, the women who lived that experience.” —Rebecca Fay, Director of Education, Delaware Historical Society
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II is an awe-inspiring and compelling story of 600,000 African American women – Rosie the Riveters” – who proudly served America with courage and compassion, during World War II. Thanks to the creative genius of writer/director, Gregory S. Cooke, for the vision to discover and reveal this untold story of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts.” —Tyra Dent Smith, Executive Director, African American Federal Executive Association (AFFEA)
“Professor and historian, Gregory S. Cooke, kept his promise with Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II. He delivered these Black identities and Black experiences from the intersectional margins of history to center stage and used his space and privilege to tell their stories. Thank you, Gregory, for not letting these warriors’ stories and contributions to a nation go unheard and go unseen.” —Jennifer Spellazza (she/her), Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Lindenwood University
“Master storyteller and World War II historian Gregory S. Cooke has made a major historiographic contribution and brought much needed attention to a vital slice of American history. His meticulous work illuminates the legacies of 600,000 Black women who contributed to the war effort during World War II—considered by many experts to be America’s most ethically just war. In so doing, Cooke provides a powerful learning tool in Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II, a documentary that corrects a shameful omission in the historical record. Professor Cooke’s veracious, culturally sensitive presentation prompted me to make Invisible Warriors a staple of my public policy course on race in America. I am especially pleased that Invisible Warriors captures the stories of these courageous women in their own words. Their testimonials about shedding wash boards and plow shears for more sophisticated tools and tasks served as a major vehicle for combatting Jim Crow and ushering in the promise of the Civil Rights era. The self-confidence, skill development and monetary gains they experienced fueled the nascent civil rights work and set a course for group progress that continues to this day. Professor Cooke’s vision in bringing forward this seminal film makes him worthy of recognition as a modern griot and a trusted keeper of cultural treasures—600,000 Black Rosie the Riveters—we now recognize and celebrate.” —Reginald F. Wells, Ph.D., Executive-in Residence, American University
“Filmmaker Gregory S. Cooke has given us poignant and compelling portraits of the contributions of African American women in his film Invisible Warriors: African American Women of World War II. Until now, their stories remained untold. Today, all American women, and the nation, owe a debt of gratitude to these women who served a nation at war. Despite the indignities of racism, sexism, and gender discrimination they entered the workforce to serve in President Franklin Roosevelt’s “arsenal of democracy.” Thanks to Cooke, they are no longer ‘invisible’.” —Jovida Hill, Writer & Producer, In the Land of Jim Crow
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II is an essential and timely illumination of the invaluable role Black women played in the Allied victory. Gregory S. Cooke’s poignant documentary highlights the legacy of these extraordinary women whose rightful place among the ‘greatest generation’ is too often overlooked and ignored.” —David L. Unruh, Senior Vice President, Institutional Advancement, Drexel University
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II is a powerful awakening. We salute Gregory Cooke for his ongoing effort to include these African American female warriors in the broader narrative about World War II.” —Maxine Holland, Co-Founder and Director, Veterans Committee of Central Virginia
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II speaks an unspoken truth within the history of World War II by illuminating the hidden roles that Black women played. Invisible Warriors is a must see for everyone.” —Robby Hamilton, Black Student Union President, Lindenwood University
“I applaud Professor and Historian Gregory S. Cooke for his extraordinary documentary, Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II. The documentary provides a long overdue, powerful reminder of a significant portion of our country’s rich history!” —Deborah C. Johnson, President, Philadelphia PA Section, National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
“Documentary filmmaker Gregory S. Cooke’s Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II is a long overdue portrayal of the important role of Black women as “Rosie the Riveters” in the war effort and civil society more broadly. This extraordinary, moving, informative film includes powerful portraits of well-known women such as Dorothy Height and not so well-known women whose lives illuminate the double and triple burden of race, gender, and class that Black women in the U.S. have endured and resisted for over a century. Meticulously researched, INVISIBLE WARRIORS challenges stereotypical images of Black women that render us invisible during World War II rather than critical to its triumphs and legacies.” —Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D., Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies, Spelman College
“The documentary film Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II brings to the collective consciousness untold stories of American History. This documentary helps to reverse the collective amnesia that stifles social, political and racial progress in America. These unmined stories are valuable assets to the canon of American History. One student reflects: ‘The film helped me to remember how frustrated I am that so many important people and events are just left out our collective memory. What really makes me frustrated is that the story of the African American Rosie the Riveters would be a really great way to teach kids in middle-school and high-school how truly unproductive, unfair, and nonsensical racism and sexism is.’” —Prof. Julie Rainbow, Community Archives and Collective Memory, Drexel University
“Allyship in action is the term that comes to mind when I think of Gregory Cooke and his work with the Invisible Warriors documentary. My father was a WWII Navy Veteran and I grew up listening to the stories of the racism he experienced in the service, but I never knew the story of the Black Rosies. Invisible Warriors is a powerful and inspirational documentary of women who paved the way for women in the workforce today. Thank you for bringing this story to life. We truly stand on the shoulders of Giants.” —Angela V. Harris, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft
“Gregory S. Cooke’s Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II is one of the most remarkable documentaries in recent memory. From Belinda to Harriet Tubman to Sojourner Truth to Ida B. Wells to Mary McLeod Bethune, the line of Black women activists is unbroken and at once champions one incontrovertible truth: ‘We can do it, and we did it.’ The current call in the academy for centers for anti-racist scholarship and advocacy might best be served by channeling attention to the history of Black women in the country and Black women studies. This is what filmmaker Cooke does. He takes the period before WWII through its aftermath to tell the story of remarkable women who worked to support the war effort and to dismantle Jim Crow — with varying results. But what stands out is the recovery of the 600,000 Black women who contributed to a country that insisted upon their invisibility. The film with its photograph, historical commentary, first person accounts, and footage is a masterpiece of historical storytelling.” —Dr. Adele Newson-Horst (She, Her, Hers) Professor of English, Coordinator Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Morgan State University
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II does a beautiful job of telling the story of the African American women whose hard work and bravery was crucial in keeping the very fabric of our nation together during WWII: the “Rosie the Riveter” story that has yet to be told until now. Our community not only enjoyed the film immensely, it also was an inspiration to many, to learn more about the stories in history that are not told frequently enough, if at all.” —Morgan Morrison, Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville, Va.
“Gregory Cooke’s Invisible Warriors highlights the wide variety of roles played by African American women working as Rosie the Riveters during World War II, balancing their support for American operations overseas with having to fight the impacts of Jim Crow at home. The women featured in this film share their personal stories of triumph and struggle, claiming their rightful place in the historical record of how women’s lives were indelibly changed by the new roles they assumed during the war. We all owe Gregory and his team a debt of gratitude for ensuring that the contributions of over 600,000 black women in the United States during World War II are not only celebrated, but also remembered for generations to come.” —Michele Reeves, CEO/President, The Historic Trust
Invisible Warriors shares the experience of courageous women who stepped up to help the war effort during WWII and found themselves fighting an entirely different kind of battle – the battle for respect. This film honors their lives, validates their collective experience, and finally gives voice to the long-overdue inclusion of Black women in the story of how America won the war. Following the screening held with the Florida Historic Capitol Museum, 83% of attendees ‘strongly felt’ that they had heard new information about roles Black women played in WWII that they had never heard before.” —Rachel Porter, Director of Research and Programming, Florida Historic Capitol Museum Foundation
Invisible Warriors brilliantly pays homage to African American Rosies while uncovering a part of history that has been hidden in plain sight. World War II has largely been framed as a war that focuses on the intentions of the Axis and Allied powers. Professor Gregory Cooke’s documentary reveals the contributions of everyday African American women who played a critical role in the winning of the war. We cannot underscore the significance of the women who fought Jim Crow on the home front while working jobs that provided resources to fight fascism abroad. This film provides invaluable insight, it is well researched, and it is truly inspiring.” —Ashley Robertson Preston, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, Howard University

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INVISIBLE WARRIORS: AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN IN WORLD WAR II

Watch the trailer of our film Invisible Warriors. Visit the Invisible Warriors website for more information about the film and to find upcoming screenings.