Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
October 31, 2014

Advocates Demand The NYPD Stop Handcuffing 5-Year-Olds

Handcuffs
Chris Mathias

Man Convicted Of Double Murder In Landmark Case Released From Prison

Alstory
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Problem With That Catcalling Video: They Edited Out All The White Guys

171248054
olaser via Getty Images

Ta-Nehisi Coates On White Supremacy And A Life Of Struggle

Ta Nehisi Coates
Leigh Vogel via Getty Images

It's About Time Someone Other Than Straight White Males Got To Be Superheroes

Chadwick Boseman
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Twitter Account Leaking Details About Ferguson Investigation Was Hacked, Prosecutor Claims

Bob Mcculloch
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Why Black Women Are Less Likely To Survive Breast Cancer

Black Woman Patient
Siri Stafford via Getty Images

Halloween: The Season for Culturally-Insensitive Fashion

Native Feathers
Milk & Honey Creative via Getty Images

Mitt Romney: Obama Hasn't Given The Poor And Minorities Enough Gifts

Mitt Romney
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beyond Ferguson -- Unrepresentative Democracy in City Elections

Election
Blend Images - Hill Street Studios via Getty Images

Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis for Black Women

Here Is Why 'Redskins' Shouldn't Be Heard On Television

No Honor In Racism
Red Circle Agency

California Health Officials Investigate Illness At NAACP Conference

Ambulance
PNC via Getty Images

Chicago Man Says Police Stormed His Home After He Was Just Walking Down The Street

Arrest Video
NBC Chicago

Cosby Has No One to Blame But Cosby for His Sullied Image

Bill Cosby
Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Watch Nas React To Seeing An Ancestor's Bill Of Sale Into Slavery

Nas Finding Roots
PBS

Republicans Fear Price To Pay For Attacks On Black Interests

Vote
Blend Images - Hill Street Studios via Getty Images

Zambian President Michael Sata Dies

Michael Sata
Pool via Getty Images

Ebola Appears To Be Slowing In Liberia: WHO

Liberia
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Giants Are World Series Champions!

Giants World Series
Pool via Getty Images

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Attack Another Nigerian Town

Nigeria Soldiers
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Watch This Dancing Traffic Cop Tear Up The Roads With His Sweet Moves

Dancing Cop
WTHI

Meet The Guy Who Just Bought 6,000-Plus Neglected Properties In Detroit

2551 Fischer
Motor City Mapping

LOOK
Kansas City Star's Stunning Royals Front Page

Kansas City Royals
Newseum

Coke Is Targeting Nations That Don't Have An Obesity Epidemic... Yet

New Bill Sets A Precedent For ‘The Erosion Of Free Speech'

Mumia Abu Jamal
Lisa Terry via Getty Images

New York Police Study Reveals 'Stark Racial Biases'

Nypd
Travelif via Getty Images

When It's OK To Use The 'R-Word'

Cover Mouth Black
g-stockstudio via Getty Images

Meet 3 People Working To Ensure The Next Hurricane Sandy Doesn't Take Such A Terrible Toll

Hurricane Sandy
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

White House Fears Cyberattack Underway

White House
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

How Felons' Right To Vote Protects American Democracy

Voting
Blend Images - Hill Street Studios via Getty Images

Freedom Summer, 2015

Freedom Summer Civil Rights
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Groups Pledge $8 Billion For Horn Of Africa To End Poverty

Ethiopia Poverty
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Advocates Welcome Retirement Of Rikers Official Who Oversaw Violent Juvenile Facility

Rikers
NYC DOC

Ebola Researcher Raises $100,000 Via Crowdfunding

Ebola Clinic
John Moore via Getty Images

Follow HuffPost

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. Most Popular on HuffPost
    2. Latest News
    3. Black Voices
    4. View all RSS feeds

23 Things Any 'Scandal' Fan Knows To Be True

Olivia Pope Scandal
Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

What Nelly Tries To Remember About Raising Kids Today

Nelly
HuffPost Live

Why Deion Sanders Will Never Be On 'DWTS'

Deion Sanders Toe
HuffPost Live

Chris Rock Shows A Totally Different 'Prince' In 'SNL' Promos

Snlrock
NBC

Rihanna Gets Risqué For AmfAR

Rihanna
Steve Granitz/WireImage

The Real Story Behind Boyz II Men's Estranged Fourth Member

Boyz Ii Men
Gabriel Olsen via Getty Images

'SNL's' Michael Che Takes Heat For Street Harassment Comments

Michael Che
NBC via Getty Images

Things You Don't Know Your Natural Hair Can Do

Teyonah Parris
Bright Ideas Magazine

WATCH
This Was One 'Thriller' Of A Baseball Game

Thriller
AOL Huffington Post Video

Viola Davis Explains Why The Wig Had To Come Off

How To Get Away With Murder
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

This Is The Greatest Boxing Moment Since 'Rocky'

Tyson
NBC

At Least Theophilus London's New Song Features Kanye West

Theophilus London
SoundCloud

This Is What Happens When Fred Armisen & Ice-T Play Video Games

Ice T
Andy Kropa /Invision/AP

Marvel's Making A 'Black Panther' Movie

Chadwick Boseman
Andreas Rentz via Getty Images

Man Arrested For Pot Tells Cops He's Denzel Washington

Justin Lee Seay
Rutherford County Jail

13 Real-Life Struggles Of Perpetually Forgetful People

Forget
Imgur user: larhavoc

Dionne Warwick: Don't Call Me A Diva

Dionne Warwick
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

That Time Blake Griffin Attended A 'White Party' At Donald Sterling's House

Blake Griffin
YouTube

David Oyelowo Talks 'Selma'

Selma
CloudEightFilms

How Beyoncé & Jay Z Spent Their Monday Night

Beyonce Jay Z Nightcrawler
Mammoth PR

Angela Bassett Really Doesn't Want To Sing On 'American Horror Story'

Angela Bassett
FX

IT'S A GIRL!

Lebron James Savannah
Michael Loccisano via Getty Images

A Day in the Life With Angela Simmons: Girl Boss on the Rise

Angela Simmons
Stephen Lovekin via Getty Images

First Black Female Prisoner of War Tells Harrowing Tale

Comments (484)


Much like the powerful images of Tuskegee airmen in full regalia sidled next to their planes during World War II, the image of Shoshana Johnson being escorted to safety after her captivity in Iraq is indelibly imprinted in the minds of television viewers across the world.

It was especially poignant for African Americans, who saw it as a fleeting moment of vindication for a time when blacks in the military were not acknowledged for their service.



Now, years later, Johnson, a former U.S. Army cook has helped change history again for blacks in the military. She was thrust into the spotlight when, in the early days of the Iraq War, she was shot in both ankles as her convoy of mechanics, cooks and disabled vehicles wandered into the city of Nasiriyah, Johnson writes in her newly released memoir, 'I'm Still Standing: From Captive U. S. Soldier to Free Citizen--My Journey Home.'

The wandering convoy touched off a bloody battle that left 11 U.S. soldiers dead and six abducted and held as prisoners of war, including Johnson and her friend, Jessica Lynch, she writes in the gripping memoir released just in time for Black History Month.

"I was shaking,'' she writes. "I was saying the Lord's Prayer to myself...when someone grabbed my legs and pulled me from my shelter. And like that, I became a prisoner of war.''

She became the first female prisoner of war in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first black female prisoner of war in U.S. history. But the Pentagon peddled Lynch's story, saying she went down fighting. Lynch later wrote a book correcting the story, saying she never fired a shot before being critically injured.

While Johnson's ordeal received less media attention, she was treated like a star on her home base at Fort Bliss, Texas. She was given light duties to allow her wounds to heal and was assigned by ranking officers and supervisors to represent the Army at high-profile events, which drew grumblings and rancor from some of her fellow soldiers.

"Being a POW was horrible, but some of the comments I received from fellow soldiers felt just as bad,'' she said in an interview with BV on Books. "I had a lot of support from the African American community, but it's like someone once said, 'Not every black person is your friend, and not every white person is your enemy. A black male was upset because I went to an Oscar De La Hoya fight. He was like, 'I was in the same Army and I didn't get to go.' I was like, 'did you get shot? We had totally different experiences. That hurt my heart. There was another white officer who accused me of housing fraud and said I wasn't living with my child.''

Johnson was rescued in April 2003, but by late August, she was severely depressed, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and at risk of endangering her relationship with her daughter. She requested a medical discharge.

"I wrote my story to set the record straight,'' she said in the interview. "There is so much out there that happened to me from people who were not there. I just wanted to tell my story and let it be known. I'm not naïve. There are people who will still say that is not what happened, but I know in my heart what is true.''

She is critical of the nation's military efforts in Iraq. "I never understood the politics of what's going into Iraq. I want my fellow soldiers to come home. It's not something I can watch on the news. It's very tender.''

Johnson said she still suffers from the aftereffects of combat. "It's going to be a long, hard road to get better,'' she said. "I take medication. It won't ease up as long as these conflicts are going on in the Middle East. I just have to get over the guilt of living when good people died. It's hard, but each day gets easier.''

'I'm Still Standing' is a riveting piece of black history that should be read for generations. It also is a compelling story of a woman's courage to survive against all odds.

Comments: (484)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 49

Most Commented Articles

Get Closer to BV

  • slider Image
  • slider Image
  • slider Image

BLACK MUSIC NEWS
The latest news and updates on a multitude of music stars.
Check It Out!

BLACK MUSIC NOTES

       

MEN OF MCCAFÉ SEARCH
McDonald's continues its nationwide search to find five community-service minded black men during this year's CIAA tournament.


LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

       
 

Find a Message Board

Discover conversations on everyone from Barack to Beyonce. There are nearly 50 forums, so click on a category below and find the right one for you.