Documentary by West Philadelphia filmmaker honors Black Rosie the Riveters

Director Gregory Cooke says more than 600,000 Black women worked to keep America moving while getting little credit.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Ruth Wilson has an amazing story to tell, but not many people have asked to hear it until now.

"It's never been done about Black women," said Wilson of projects wanting to feature women like her who worked during World War II.

Wilson was a riveter, one of a large number of women who worked in factories, naval yards, and other places that needed women for industrial work during World War II when so many men were off to war.

"It was all women, and reject men," she said.

While the image of Rosie the Riveter has become familiar nationwide, West Philadelphia native Gregory Cooke says there has never been a major focus on African American Rosie the Riveters.

Therefore, he created a documentary on them, saying more than 600,000 Black women worked to keep America moving while getting little credit.

"They arguably are the most significant group of Black women in the 20th century," said Cooke.

The film "Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II" premiered earlier this year globally and has gained worldwide acclaim.

The film was co-sponsored by the Dutch government, which wanted to honor African American women for playing a role in the liberation of the Netherlands.

On Wednesday, that acclaim came to the Philadelphia Naval Yard, where Wilson returned to her old work site for the first time since 1945.

"It looks so different to me," Wilson said.

While there, Philly shipyard officials presented her with a photo of the ship she worked on. Wilson worked with sheet metal to construct bulkheads for ships.

Cooke also presented a portrait to The Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, which was instrumental in helping Wilson return to her old stomping grounds.

The portrait by artist Regina Cooke reimagines Rosie the Riveter as a Black woman, with Wilson being the face of the campaign.

"I feel so appreciated," she said.

Cooke is currently fielding distribution offers for "Invisible Warriors."

There will be a screening event in December in Washington D.C.

To see trailer, CLICK HERE.

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