THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN WORLD WAR I MAKING

The African American Experience In World War I Making-Free PDF

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TABLE OF CONTENTS,ABSTRACT iii,ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v,PREFACE vi. INTRODUCTION 1,CHAPTER 1 HOME FRONT 16,CHAPTER 2 FRANCE AND THE FRENCH 56. CHAPTER 3 POST WAR EVENTS AND ATTITUDES 91,CONCLUSION 111. BIBLIOGRAPHY 117, The impact of World War I on African Americans especially on the soldiers who served in. the perceptibly more tolerant French society transformed the black community and served as an. important yet often overlooked episode in the civil rights movement Despite strong white. resistance to blacks serving in the war between 1917 and 1919 the mind set of American blacks. was fundamentally and permanently altered by African Americans experiences during that. conflict To understand the civil rights revolution in the era following World War II one must. consider the African American experience in the years of the First World War. During the war the generally amicable relationship between the African American soldiers. and French soldiers French citizens and colonial African and Asian troops led to a new black. identity The patriotic service of the African American soldiers the war s lofty aims for. democracy and rapid demographic changes all contributed to opening a new front in the battle. for civil rights Likewise these changes fostered the Harlem Renaissance and a positive self. image for African Americans often described as the New Negro. The analysis of diaries mainstream newspapers black newspapers memoirs letters. government documents and secondary sources detailing the experiences of African Americans. in the war and on the home front permits a more thorough understanding of African Americans. rapidly changing expectations and perceptions brought on by their wartime experiences The. resulting study illuminates how the African American community was significantly influenced. by black soldiers descriptions of their interactions with the comparatively liberal French people. This analysis also includes an examination of the fear arising among the whites who sought to. inhibit this transformation and African Americans response to these proscriptive efforts. President Wilson s desire to make the world safe for democracy served to re energize. African Americans claims that democratic America could no longer tolerate racial hypocrisy. Conversely for many whites the war advanced and intensified their aspirations to retain their. racial hegemony But unlike many of the lofty goals of the war prideful African Americans. heightened intolerance of the status quo and their war induced commitments to bolder social and. political change did not fall victim to the passing of time These changes found expression in. their music political writings and cultural organizations and represent an important. advancement in their long struggle for equality in America. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, I would like to recognize the suggestions editing and dedication of my committee Their.
efforts gave me ideas support and assurance Likewise I want to acknowledge my wife Deb. who gave me nothing but support during the last four years It was her confidence in me that. both began and sustained this endeavor and I appreciate her steadfast encouragement. Dayton Forum November 22 1918,The Negro s New Day, Youngstown Ohio November 11 1918 Their service in the war has entitled them to better. treatment than they have received In a passenger coach of a southern train the other day a friend. of the writer espied a veteran of Pershing s army Upon an empty sleeve were two six month. Foreign Service stripes a wound chevron and on his breast a medal of honor Ordinarily it. would seem as if one who had sacrificed as much for his country and democracy would be. certain of all courtesy and friendliness from every fellow citizen he met but as he sat there the. conductor of the train came to him and touching his worn uniform said You are in the wrong. coach You belong in the Jim Crow car Get out of here The Negro looked him steadily in the. eyes I ll stay right here he said firmly You could have talked to me that way once but you. can t now And he pointed to his empty sleeve All right said the conductor I ll soon fix. you Whereupon he called a burly brakeman and they were about to throw this one armed. veteran out of the car when the Southern white men who witnessed this humiliating scene arose. The train hands were ordered to desist and Pershing s veteran rode in peace the sole colored. man in a carload of whites 1, The Negro s New Day Dayton Forum 6 no 4 November 22 1918 3. INTRODUCTION, World War I was a transformative event for African Americans and a catalytic event in the. twentieth century struggle for social justice that would encompass the next sixty years in. American history According to William H Chafe the civil rights movement is arguably the. most important grassroots insurgency in American history 2 Military service offered African. Americans an unexpected opportunity provided a springboard for increased their demands for. equal rights and contributed to the genesis of the civil rights movement African Americans. encounters with more liberal attitudes in fighting alongside French military and living among the. French people became an extraordinary experience for these men The experiences of these. black soldiers reinforced by developments on the home front such as northward migration new. economic opportunities and organizational developments accelerated and telescoped black. activism and contributed to a radical cultural transformation of American blacks For many. African Americans the war represented the launching of a new self image and the opportunity to. organize a systematic effort on a national and worldwide scale to overcome entrenched white. oppression and discrimination The war reversed a flagging and factionalized movement and led. opportunistic black leaders to implore national leaders the international population and. especially the black community to renew their efforts to bring justice and equality to African. Americans Blacks actively participated in the war effort and viewed the war as an opportunity. to turn away from being passive victims to embracing assertiveness pride and self confidence. The under examined impact of World War I on race relations in American history may be. partially due to the absence of a full scale civil rights movement in the 1920 s and the decade s. limited progress toward racial justice Hence the significant changes the war cultivated in black. As quoted in Eric Foner The New American History Philadelphia Temple University Press 1997 159. attitudes have been discounted or overlooked because the outcome failed to meet expectations. Further because World War II ushered in far more consequential and lasting changes in the. history of American race relations the long term effects of the Great War on American society. and race relations tend to be undervalued Yet the war years of 1914 1919 served as a. harbinger of change and reversed some of the disenchantment in the African American. community of the previous decades In the course of their participation in the war effort many. black Americans cultivated a heightened self awareness racial pride and responded with a more. assertive willingness to turn anger over racial discrimination into political action This was the. age of the New Negro, The new level of integration of black and white which at that time had a vastly different. meaning than it does today included the immersion of black troops into a more tolerant French. society The physical segregation of the races began to ebb as black soldiers came into frequent. and more personal contact with white citizens and soldiers The embedding of African American. troops in the French army and cities during World War I contributed to this erosion of physical. racial barriers This condition would model the subsequent wearing down of social barriers. between the races in America The opportunity to fight alongside the French intermingle with. the comparatively tolerant people and associate with citizens from all over the world afforded. African Americans a taste of what could be their ultimate liberation at home physical and then. social integration Despite countless attempts by many white Americans to export Jim Crow. segregation to Europe strengthen it at home and augment it following the war the merging. relatively tolerant French and the expectant African Americans strengthened the resolve of those. willing to fight for racial equality, African Americans anticipated that with their military service and by displaying exemplary.
patriotism their repayment would be a greater willingness on the part of white America to move. towards citizenship defined as equal treatment under the law Likewise many blacks believed. that the nation s shared experience of war would garner further understanding from the white. community and initiate the first step to ending segregation and racial intolerance. What is still missing from this body of scholarship is a study of how the African Americans. perceptions of French tolerance on racial issues and the temporary integration of African. Americans into a predominantly white French society served as catalysts for change in the. United States Most historians of the African American experience during the war have alluded. to this topic but their focus often strays to other issues and events The culmination of the. experience both among the French and on the home front was the shaping of a new African. American self perception a development that remains obscured in a many historical works. The First World War and the experience of black soldiers integrated among the more liberal. French social milieu deserves greater recognition as a transformative event in the history of the. African American s pursuit of civil rights This thesis will provide a detailed examination of. African American soldiers changing perceptions about themselves and their development of a. clearer sense of what a racially harmonious and democratic America could mean for both races. To adequately study the impact of the war on African Americans it is necessary to study the. impact of the war on white attitudes on race issues African Americans endeavors to reduce. racial injustices and promote integration encountered indifference and reluctance from America s. white citizens and government 3 The renewal of this unbending and pervasive resistance led to. Mark Ellis Race War and Surveillance African Americans and the United States Government during World War. I Indianapolis Indiana University Press 2001 2, increased anti black activism lynchings and the persistence of the pre war racial status quo. mentality of most white Americans Yet paradoxically the war accelerated changes between the. races and foretold of changes to come If de jure segregation was to remain for decades as in. many ways it did the war nonetheless initiated a greater willingness on the part of the African. American community to confront de facto segregation in America The change was apparent to. author Stephen Graham during his 1920 tour of the Southern United States His book The Soul. of John Brown published just one year after the end of the war concluded. the war has radically changed the aspect of the Negro problem is evident It. may have changed it as radically as did the War of Secession The war and the. part taken in it by the Negro soldiers above all the wider outlook gained by. observation for the view taken of the race problem in foreign lands has made for. the growth of race consciousness among the more intelligent and better educated. Negroes Among many of them it has resulted in a bellicose determination to. have equality before the law and equality of opportunity no matter what the cost 4. The war provided critical momentum for further political organization resistance and a. willingness to fight for their well being Blacks turned away from white enforced segregation. endured and to some degree accepted by the previous generation This new post war African. American mind set included a willingness to further intermix socially with the white community. but on the condition that blacks retain their unique culture For the New Negro this form of. assimilation with blacks defining the terms of that transition became an acceptable means of. moving America forward on the race issue Further when segregation was necessary it would. not be to appease whites but instead to preserve African Americans dignity and customs. The extreme nature of war and the collectivity of action can turn perceptions into reality and. swiftly generate a revolutionary spirit among its participants Despite the brevity of American. The Negro Since the War New York Times Book Review Dec 12 1920 12. involvement in the war the First World War fought by young and impressionable soldiers. witnessed a profusion of propaganda and idealism a promise of progressive social reforms and. the novelty of foreign travel and acculturation African Americans wartime experience on the. battlefields of Europe especially soldiers from the rural South exposed easily influenced young. black men to people with radically different views on race Furthermore the French and. American military would indoctrinate blacks into military discipline and organization while. offering opportunities to prove their leadership and loyalty to America For the first time blacks. would be exposed to a meritocracy teaching them that pay and promotions were not exclusively. Further because World War II ushered in far more consequential and lasting changes in the history of American race relations the long term effects of the Great War on American society and race relations tend to be undervalued Yet the war years of 1914 1919 served as a harbinger of change and reversed some of the disenchantment in the African American community of the previous decades In

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