The Unknown Soldiers: African-American Troops in World War I

Overview

During World War I 370,000 African Americans labored, fought, and died to make the world safe for a democracy that refused them equal citizenship at home. The irony was made more bitter as black troops struggled with the racist policies of the American military itself. The overwhelming majority were assigned to labor companies; those selected for combat were under-trained, poorly equipped, ad commanded by white officers who insisted on black inferiority. Still, African Americans performed admirably under fire: ...

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Overview

During World War I 370,000 African Americans labored, fought, and died to make the world safe for a democracy that refused them equal citizenship at home. The irony was made more bitter as black troops struggled with the racist policies of the American military itself. The overwhelming majority were assigned to labor companies; those selected for combat were under-trained, poorly equipped, ad commanded by white officers who insisted on black inferiority. Still, African Americans performed admirably under fire: the 369th Infantry regiment was in continuous combat loner than any other American unit, and was the first Allied regiment to cross the Rhine in the offensive against Germany.The Unknown Soldiers, the only full-scale examination of the subject, chronicles the rigid segregation; the limited opportunities for advancement; the inadequate training, food, medical attention, housing, and clothing; the verbal harassment and physical abuse, including lynchings; the ingratitude, unemployment, and unprecedented racial violence that greeted their return. The Unknown Soldiers is an unforgettable, searing study of those wartime experiences that forced African Americans to realize that equality and justice could never be earned in Jim Crow America, but only wrested from its strangling grip.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"This competently written and carefully researched study provides the first full-scale scholarly treatment of black soldiers during World War I" (LJ 6/1/74).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306806940
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st Da Capo Press ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 825,435
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur E. Barbeau is professor of history and anthropology at West Liberty State College. Florette Henri's books include The Unknown Soldiers,Black America 1900-1920 and, for young adults, Bitter Victory: Black Soldiers in World War I.

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Table of Contents

Plates
Introduction
Foreword
Preface
1 Who Was the Black American of World War I? 3
2 Violence in the Summer, 1917 21
3 Choosing and Using Black Draftees 33
4 The Problem of the Black Officer 56
5 Two Black Fighting Outfits 70
6 Laborers in Uniform 89
7 The 93d Division in France 111
8 The 92d Division in France 137
9 After the Armistice 164
10 Home? 175
Appendix: Disposal of the Colored Drafted Men 191
Notes 203
Bibliography 249
Index 271
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