In Pursuit ofDemocracyby Gabriella Gibboni and Vinson Liu
Background-War erupted in Europe in 1914-German and Austro Hungarianimperialism-the growing nationalist sentiment in theSlavic states of southeastern Europe-the assassination in Bosnia of theArchduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbiannationalist-the fierce alignment of the Allied Powersagainst the Central Powers-President Woodrow Wilson expressed an anti-war mood of most Americans when he declaredhis country neutral
"I Didnt Raise My Boy toBe A Soldier"-American people stood on thesidelines watching, waiting,hoping not to get involved.-"I Didnt Raise My Boy to BeA Soldier" captured the wish ofmost Americans to stay out ofbloodshed.
Analysis:Thinking CriticallyWhy do you think Americans were sohesitant to join this particular war?
The Call to FightAmerican neutrality(2.5+ years) became increasingly difficult to maintain-August 1915 German U-boat torpedoed the British liner, Lusitania, with more than a hundredAmerican lives lost-then January 1917 German submarines began attacking Americans ships in the Atlanticbound for Great BritainApril 1917 President Wilson stood before a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration ofwar"Fight for the things which we have always carried nearest ourhearts--for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority tohave a voice in their own government..."-President Wilson, April 1917
Answering the Call to Fight-A far larger force was needed than the regular armysrelatively small number of enlisted men & National Guard(of which, black soldiers made up a small proportion)-Congress rejected the idea of a "whites-only draft" andpassed the Selective Service Act in May 1917 with no racialrestrictions-The first day of registration, more than 700,000 Black mensigned up for Selective Service
The Selective Service Act-Unlike the uproar over enlisting black troopsduring the Civil War, the necessity of raisingenormous manpower to fight in the World Warmade the use of African American troopsimportant
Draft Boards-Blacks were generally eager to participate in the war asboth enlisted men as well as officers-By the end of the wartime draft, 2,290,525 blacks hadregistered; 367,000 were called into service-In the end, African Americans were disproportionatelyrepresented in the Draft.-31% of all blacks who registered were accepted-26% of registered whites were accepted
Analysis:Thinking CriticallyWhy do you think there was such a largeturnout for African American registration to fightin the war?
US Reception to BlackDraftees-In some Southern counties, draft boards sought to fill theirquotas with Blacks before even turning to whites-in other counties, whites were inducted first to forestall thepossibility of arming black men as soldiers-News coverage differed from place to place; many whitenewspapers in North & South gave the impression of anoverall acceptance of blacks in the military, some ignoredand discouraged black participation
Inconsistencies withexempts-In some southern agricultural areas, wealthy farmersobtained an agricultural exemption because of theirsubstantial crop production while tenant farmers andsharecroppers of both races were called up-Draft board members were known to help their rich whiteland owning friends by exempting their black farm workersso they might harvest the crop-In Monroe County, alabama, draft boards called upmarried white men if childless and black men with only onechild
Lieutenant ColonelCharles Young-Highest ranking Black officer in 1917-White soldiers and members of Congress sternlyrejected offering Black men officer commissions-Army officials endeavored to force his retirementbased on a medical condition (he later proved hisphysical fitness and was reinstated)-Although draft was open to all races, racism in thearmed forces was undeniable
Take NoteInequality, tension, and uneasinessbetween Black and White Americansbeginning to grow
NAACP-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP)responded immediately to the whites only policy of the Armys officer trainingcamps-White NAACP officer Joel Spingarn led a citizens committee to Washingtonand helped create the establishment of a black officers training camp--meantcommissioning black officers"Colored men in a camp by themselves would all geta fair chance for promotion"-Joel Springam
Analysis:Thinking CriticallyMany openly criticized the premise of a JimCrow training camp arguing that it defeated thepurpose of struggling for equal citizenship. Inyour opinion, do you think that the all-blacktraining camps were more beneficial at the timethan having racially integrated camps?Why? Why not?
Emmett J. Scott-In Oct. 1917, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker appointed Emmett J. Scott ashis special assistant as the "confidential advisor in matters affecting theinterests of the 10 million Negroes of the US and the part they are to play inconnection with the present war"-Investigated cases of unfair treatment, problems relating to pulsory andvoluntary allotments of pay, war-risk insurance, and government allowance andcompensation-Worked with Committee on Public Information--the US Governments Nationalwartime propaganda outlet--to release news about black soldiers and varioushome front activities involving African Americans
Jim Crow Military Camps-Although Blacks served in almost every branchof army they were denied the opportunity tobecome pilots in the aviation corps-Similarly, they were barred from the Marinesand were permitted to serve in the Navy only inmenial capacities
Locating Training Camps-Training African American soldiers plagued the WarDepartment since most white communities did not wantlarge number of Black men in their midst.-Although the Army Committed to activating an all-Blackdivision, it did not permit the members of the all0Blackdivision to train together in a single location sending themto seven widely separated camps.-The Ninety-Third division was never allowed to fullyorganize before being sent abroad.
Take NoteWhite Americans uneasiness about training and armingBlack soldiers
Rampant Discrimination-Rampant discrimination permeated the US Army and the civilian agencies thatserved it. Examples include:-Service agencies, YMCA, would not serve African American recruits-A sign over one of these buildings announced " This building is for whitemen only"-White officers used insulting language as coons, niggers, farkies-White officers forced black soldiers to work under unhealthy and unsafeconditions-Blacks were assigned to busy work to make it difficult to advance in rank-Slept in tents without floors or heat during cold winter months
Take NoteThe tension hits its peak and some African Americansretaliate
African AmericansFight Back-August 1917, riot broke out in Houston between white civilians and the blacksoldiers. White policemen harassed a black woman dragging her half dressedfrom her home, a black soldier came to her defense.-In an ensuing melee, the enraged soldiers killed 17 whites.-13 Blacks were hung, 41 imprisoned for life, 40 others held pending furtherinvestigation.-Wounded the pride of African Americans and shook their faith in thegovernment
Continuedthis tragic incident "did not dampen the ardor of the coloredmen who went to the front for the Stars and Stripes"-Emmett Scott-His words failed to capture the outrage of the Black community.-The following evening the soldiers planned to "shoot up" the town ofSpartanburg, but their commanding officer, ordered them back to camp.-To prevent the recurrence of such incidents, government sent the regimentoverseas
Services Oversea-worked as army laborers who built roads and dug trenches and stevedoreswho loaded and unloaded cargo from ships-provided Allies with war material"One who sees the Negro stevedores work notes with whatrapidity and cheerfulness they work and what a veryimportant cog they are in the war machinery"-an American war correspondent
Analysis:Thinking CriticallyWhat do you think would have happened ifthe all-Black units were never sentto services overseas?Do you think "tragic" events would continue tooccur?
The 369th U.S. Infantry-African American troops were among the first US combat forces to gooverseas.-April 1918 they moved to the front-May1918 in the thick of the fight in northern France, then assigned toblock a German offensive at Minaucourt-July 1918 withstood the final German assault-The 369th Regiment never had a man captured and never gave up a trench ora foot of ground-First Allied unit to reach the Rhine
Decoration of AfricanAmerican Soldiers-The 369th was the first and longest serving of all Americanregiments assigned to support a foreign army--191 days inthe trenches.-Overseas, African American soldiers who demonstratedbravery under fire were decorated lavishly by the FrenchArmy; not one African American received theCongressional Medal of Honor.-Entire Regiment won the Croix de Guerre for its action andthe Legion of Honor, nicknamed the "Harlem Hellfightersbecause of their tireless fighting spirit"
German Propaganda-Printed material written in English that argued that AfricanAmerican Soldiers should not be deluded into thinking thatthey were fighting for democracy-"Do you enjoy the same rights as the white people do inAmerica...or are you rather not treated over there assecond-class citizens?"-Invited African American troops to surrender and comeover to the German lines, where they would find friends toaid them in the cause of liberty and democracy. Not oneblack soldier took this bait and deserted.
Slander of Black TroopsAfrican Americans soliders received much critcism from white Americancommanders and soldiers. Black troops became the scapegoat for any failedmission reinforced the assumption of white soldiers that black troops wereinferior in combat.These slander campaigns continued even after the war ended.~ "In a future war the main use of the negro should be in labororganizations" -a white American Commander~discouraging of organizing blacks in large divisonsTHINK ABOUT ITQuestion 1:Do you think that the white troops andthe black troops had equalopprotunities to win battles? Why orwhy not?
Think About ItAnswer One:Regarding war and fighting for your country, you would think that regardless ofyour skin color, each opportunity to win a battle would equal, right?Wrong!Black troops were automatically faulted for:- deficient training- insufficient combat equipment-unfamiliarity of the French countryside
Cultural ExperiencesEven in the midst of the war, black soldiers found time for pleasantries, culturalexperiences, and social contact.Some combat units even had their own bands-The most famous was the 369th Regiment Band lead by JamesEurope who is said to be responsible for bringing jazz to Francehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLHWPKmCzhU-Another famous band was the 350th Field Artillery under JamesBrymm, whose jazz repertoire won French admirationConcert pianist, Helen Hagan, along with Rev. Jenry Hugh Proctor and songleader and teacher J.E. Blanton, traveled throughout France staging programsfor black and white troops. The black soldiers had a particularly emotionalresponse to the music.
Helen Hagan"[Black soldiers]had not seen awoman of theirrace since theyleft home, andfrequently tearswould well up inthe eyes of thesemen as theylooked up on thistalented woman."
France versus AmericaYMCA-Unlike the YMCAs in the American South, the YMCA/YWCA in France served blacksoldiers overseas. They provided literacy classes, libraries, canteens, letter writingfacilities, etc.African American Nurses-Although a large number of these women offered their services, the US governmentwas very slow to accept them and sent them overseas only after the fighting hadended.Social Life-Regardless of the constant rumors that white American soldiers spread aboutAfrican American soldiers, the French continued to welcome and keep their blackdefenders as comfortable as possible.THINK ABOUT ITQuestion Two: What reasons do you think thewhite American soldiers had to constantly tryand make the French hate the AfricanAmerican soldiers?
Think About ItAnswer Two:After spreading constant rumors about the African American soldiers to the French, including thingslike:-black men are rapists- blacks cannot be treated with common civility-creating a documentary titled "Secret Information Concerning Black Troops" which stated that itis essential to enforce strict segregation and to avoid any contact with black men outside therequirements of military serviceits hard to believe that the white American soldiers didnt have a reason, other than just being mean,for spreading these rumors.So whats the other reason?They were worried that the African American soldiers stationed in France had developed habis andpractices that would prove detrimental to interracial stablility once they returned to the United States.The extent of this worry reached the United States and resulted in the War department sendingsomebody over to investigate the rumors and examine the conditions affecting the African Americansoldiers
Coming Home"Your record has sent a thrill ofjoy and satisfaction to the heartsof millions of black and whiteAmericans, rich and poor, highand low... You will go back toAmerica heros, as you really are."- Robert R. Morton-African American and whitetroops were greeted byenthusiastic crowds and paradedup Fifth Aventue in New York. Inmany places, the crowds were sodense, the troops could not marchin their regular formations
"Has the World ForgottenCongo*?"Unfortunately for Germanys African colonies, they did notreceive independence and were distributed among thevictorious Allies.Black leaders, disgusted with this distribution, called a Pan-African Congress to meet in Paris in 1919.*referring to the Congolese people and the death of 2-15 million of these as aresult of King Leopold the II
African American WarEffortsThe black press estimated that blacks purchased morethan $250 million worth of bonds and stamps- African American women alone bought more than $5million worth of bonds in the Third Liberty Loancampaign- Black-owned North Carolina Mutal Life InsuranceCompany purchased $300,000 worth of bonds in lessthan two years.They also supported the fund-raising campaigns of theYMCA, YWCA, and the American Red Cross
DiscriminationsUnfortunately, this patriotic fever also created a newdiscrimination and stereotyping against Germans, or asthey were called "Huns".- In Iowa, teachers were forbidden to teach German.- Libraries removed all books written in German- Symphony orchestras refused to play Herman operaor orchestral pieces.THINK ABOUT ITQuestion Three: How to you think thenations patriotic wartime intoleranceagainst Germans effected the long-exisiting racism against AfricanAmericans?
Think About itAnswer Three:You would think that the negative focus on Germans wouldresult in less negative attention on African Americans,right?Wrong!Racism against African Americans became conflated withthe new hate of Germans. This was especially true in thesouthern states.
The African AmericanPressBlack newspapers encouraged African Americans to moveto industrial centers in search of work, urged support of thewar, protest racist incidence, and also led in the fight forcomplete integration.The African American press, generally supportive of thewar, didnt hesitate to point of racial injustice.The press also helped tell of gallantry and heroism of theblack troops oversea whom did not receive much creditduring the war.
Black ExodusThe migration of hundreds ofthousands of African Americans fromthe South to the North. Coupled withthe abrupt end of Europeanimmigrants coming to America, asevere labor depression occured inthe South.This Great Migration gave blacksindustrial jobs they had never had andalso, proved the importance of blackworkers.
National Urban LeagueHelped newly arrived Adrican Americans adjustto life in northern industrial centersBy the end of WWI, branches of the NationalUrban League operated in thirty cities.African Americans organized several unions aswell such as the Associated ColoredEmployees of America and AFL, AmericanFederation of Labor
Post War ConsequencesThe war elicited conflicting emotions in African Americans. Patriotic storieswere used to give pride, but racial injustice hurt morale. Riots, murders, anddeaths did not diminish.-At least, 38 African Americans lost their lives to lynch mobs in 1917. Thatnumber rose to 58 the very next year.-More than three thousand whites responded to an invitation of anewspaper to come witness the burning of a "live Negro."- African Americans were stabbed, clubbed, and hung. One two-year oldchild was shot and thrown into the doorway of a burning building.-In the first summer after the war, more than fifty cities erupted in racialviolence
SignificanceVery sadly, even after fighting for their country, AfricanAmericans were still treated as inferior. However, it didinstill hope for the future in the minds and hearts of allAfrican Americans."Returning Soldier" W.E.B. Du Boishttps://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cpoltGKEXbg#t=1706s