One of the goals we have on the politics desk is to work as often as possible with historians. Over the past few years, as American politics has gotten more disruptive, extreme and complex, we’ve relied on those scholars to place our politics in a historical context. Turns out, some of the problems we’re experiencing now are not new, and helping readers understand how they were – or weren’t – solved in the past can cultivate a deeper appreciation for the difficulties we face.

And sometimes, it’s just really interesting to learn how a problem today was dealt with when it also happened decades ago. That’s how we ended up this week publishing “The forgotten story of Black soldiers and the Red Ball Express during World War II,” by historian Matthew Delmont. I asked Howard Manly, our race and equity editor, to describe the story – and its genesis in our Ukraine coverage.

“As the war in Ukraine continues with no end in sight, the ability to supply soldiers with food, ammunition and medical supplies is often the difference in winning or losing a battle,” writes Manly.

“Such was the case in World War II, when a little-known group of mostly Black truck drivers served in the Red Ball Express. As Delmont writes, the soldiers earned a reputation as tireless and fearless troops who fought not only Nazis but also discrimination within the segregated U.S. military.

"‘Despite the racism they encountered during training and deployment,’ Delmont writes, ‘Many saw patriotism and a willingness to fight as two characteristics by which manhood and citizenship were defined.’”

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

Shown here in May 1945, these black soldiers were attached to the 666th Quartermaster Truck Company that was part of the Red Ball Express. National Archives

The forgotten story of Black soldiers and the Red Ball Express during World War II

Matthew Delmont, Dartmouth College

Comprised mostly of Black soldiers, the Red Ball Express transported supplies day and night and is given credit for providing a strategic advantage over the Nazi military.

The votes are there. Ketanji Brown Jackson will become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as Supreme Court justice: 4 essential reads

Matt Williams, The Conversation

Scholars discuss the meaning of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s elevation to the highest court in the land.

Rapes, torture and killings have all been reported from Bucha, Ukraine, where soldiers and investigators look at charred bodies lying on the ground. AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Rape by Russian soldiers in Ukraine is the latest example of a despicable wartime crime that spans the globe

Mia Bloom, Georgia State University

An expert on rape during war examines the emerging evidence from Ukraine that Russian soldiers raped Ukrainian women and explains the role rape plays in conflicts.

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