Conversation with Donald JerniganArtist Name
00:00 / 1:41:20
Donald Jernigan
Donald Jernigan

This photograph was sent by Commissioner Jernigan.

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Donald Jernigan
Donald Jernigan

This photograph was sent by Commissioner Jernigan.

press to zoom
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Donald Jernigan

Before Donald Jernigan graduated from high school, he received a draft notice in his mail. Only a year later, he was in Vietnam during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, the Tet Offensive, and some of the most heavy combat of the war. As an infantry man, Jernigan was a "grunt," meaning his purpose was to be a fighter. After his time in active combat, Jernigan dedicated his life to helping veterans, particularly African American veterans, and because of his work, became the first African American Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Veterans Affairs. In his conversation, Jernigan discusses the experience of combat, the experience of war as a young man, and the racial tensions that hung over him during the war.