“The Road to Tokyo”—African American GIs Building the Ledo Road


ACLS HBCU Faculty Grants


History, Political Science, and Philosophy


This study investigates a critical contribution Black Americans made to the nation as well as to peoples of Asia during WWII. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allies established a China-Burma-India Theater to fight Japan and support China. Black GIs undertook the significant project of building a highway and a fuel pipeline from Assam in northeastern India through Naga hills in north Burma to reach Yunnan, a southern Chinese frontier province. Between 1942 and 1945, Black soldiers formed most of the US engineer troops who defied a hostile climate and topographical elements—jungles, floods, diseases, wildlife—as well as Japanese snipers and air raids, accomplishing an engineering miracle under war situation. In the meantime, their performance, character, and goodwill earned admiration and friendship from various Asian peoples, establishing an Afro-American-Asian connection in twentieth-century world history.