Magazine article Ebony

James McBride: Author's Book, Miracle at St. Anna, Comes to Life in Spike Lee Movie

Magazine article Ebony

James McBride: Author's Book, Miracle at St. Anna, Comes to Life in Spike Lee Movie

Article excerpt

It was James McBride's uncle, Henry Jordan, who is partially responsible for the novel-now-movie Miracle at St. Anna. "When I was a little kid in Brooklyn, [my uncle] used to talk about World War II and about how the Italians loved the colored man," says McBride, a best-selling author, award-winning composer and an accomplished saxophonist.

After the success of his New York Times first book, The Color of Water, a memoir that tells the story of his biracial upbringing, McBride remembers his uncle talking about legendary Buffalo Soldiers of the Army's 92nd Division. In addition to his uncle's accounts, one of McBride's father's best friends had fought in the division, as well as his godfather's cousin. McBride pressed them to tell stories about their experience, followed that up by interviewing other members of the division, attended the division's manual reunion and then moved to Italy for six months to "get an idea of what that life was like for the Italians and for the Buffalo Soldiers who fought side by side with some of the Italian Partisans [the revolutionary freedom fighters]."

While immersed in research, McBride says he accidentally came across the village of St. Anna, where 560 Italian civilians were killed. The reason for the slaughter, however, remains up for interpretation. The film, Miracle at St. Anna, looks closely at the role Black soldiers played on the front lines of World War II and at the unique relationship the Buffalo Soldiers had with the Italians during their shared journey toward freedom. …

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