Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America's First Black Generals
This amazing true story of America’s first Black generals, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. and Jr., a father and son who helped integrate the American military and created the Tuskegee Airmen, is “the book Black America needs in this moment” (Eboni K. Williams, lawyer and cohost of State of the Culture).
Red Tails, George Lucas’s celebration of America’s first Black flying squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, should have been a moment of victory for Doug Melville. He expected to see his great-uncle Benjamin O. Davis Jr.—the squadron’s commander—immortalized on-screen for his selfless contributions to America. But as the film rolled, Doug was shocked when he realized that Ben Jr.’s name had been omitted and replaced by the fictional Colonel A. J. Bullard. And Ben’s father, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., America’s first Black general who helped integrate the military, was left out completely.
Dejected, Doug looked inward and realized that unless he worked to bring their inspirational story to light, it would remain hidden from the world just as it had been concealed from him.
In this “thoughtful, highly readable blend of family and military history” (Kirkus Reviews), Melville shares his quest to rediscover his family’s story across five generations, from post-Civil War America to modern day Asia and Europe. In life, the Davises were denied the recognition and compensation they’d earned, but through his journey, Melville uncovers something greater: that dedication and self-sacrifice can move proverbial mountains—even in a world determined to make you invisible.
Invisible Generals recounts the lives of a father and his son who always maintained their belief in the American dream. As the inheritor of their legacy, Melville retraces their steps, advocates for them to receive their long-overdue honors and unlocks the potential we all hold to retrieve powerful family stories lost to the past.
Praise for Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America's First Black Generals
"Melville traces his family's history to ensure their groundbreaking achievements are not forgotten."
"Documenting unsparingly the opposition they had to overcome due solely to the color of their skin, Melville recounts [his family's] stories with deep emotion, sympathetic with their struggles and angry with the system that made these humans invisible."
“In the rich tapestry of American history, the inspiring saga of the country’s first two Black generals remains a lesser-known gem, hidden in the shadows of time. These trailblazers, courageous leaders, and unyielding advocates rose above adversity with the unwavering spirit of justice burning in their hearts. Their story serves as an enduring beacon of hope, a reminder that the path to equality and justice is not without challenges, but it is one worth traversing.”
—Ben Crump, Black America’s Attorney General
“The book Black America needs in this moment. This American story is rooted in family, loyalty, heart, and excellence. Doug’s family is representative of our own families . . . rooted in the consistent legacies of connection, disruption, and love in ways we can all be proud of.”
—Eboni K. Williams, journalist, attorney, and author of Pretty Powerful
“For centuries, Black people’s contributions to American history have been overlooked—including their contributions to US military prowess. As Black Americans, our stories have power. And it’s long past time to reclaim that power.”
—Charlamagne Tha God, New York Times bestselling author of Black Privilege
“Invisible Generals is not Black history, nor military history, but American history. The military’s first two Black generals paved the way for so many not just in our military but for all Americans—yet they have been invisible for so long. This book will educate and inspire Americans to honor these heroes for their selfless contributions toward moving our nation forward.”
—BRIGADIER GENERAL (RET.) LEON JOHNSON, former national president of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
“A thoughtful, highly readable blend of family and military history.”