Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era

Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era

by Chad L. Williams
     
 

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On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson thrust the United States into World War I by declaring, "The world must be made safe for democracy." For the 380,000 African American soldiers who fought and labored in the global conflict, these words carried life or death meaning. Relating stories bridging the war and postwar years, spanning the streets of Chicago and the streets of…  See more details below

Overview

On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson thrust the United States into World War I by declaring, "The world must be made safe for democracy." For the 380,000 African American soldiers who fought and labored in the global conflict, these words carried life or death meaning. Relating stories bridging the war and postwar years, spanning the streets of Chicago and the streets of Harlem, from the battlefields of the American South to the battlefields of the Western Front, Chad L. Williams reveals the central role of African American soldiers in World War I and how they, along with race activists and ordinary citizens alike, committed to fighting for democracy at home and beyond.

Using a diverse range of sources, Williams connects the history of African American soldiers and veterans to issues such as the obligations of citizenship, combat and labor, diaspora and internationalism, homecoming and racial violence, "New Negro" militancy, and African American historical memories of the war. Democracy may have been distant from the everyday lives of African Americans at the dawn of the war, but it nevertheless remained a powerful ideal that sparked the hopes of black people throughout the country for societal change. Torchbearers of Democracy reclaims the legacy of black soldiers and establishes the World War I era as a defining moment in the history of African Americans and peoples of African descent more broadly.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Williams places the experiences of African American soldiers during the World War I era front and center. In doing so, he illuminates the powerful, and often shifting, connections between citizenship and military service in a democracy.--U.S. Military History Review

Torchbearers of Democracy is not a story with heroes and villains, only victims. And Williams tells the story with the exquisite skill of a scholarly storyteller.--Virginia Libraries

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807899359
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/20/2010
Series:
John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
472
Sales rank:
996,974
File size:
4 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
In a manner that no previous author has achieved, Chad Williams vividly captures the turbulent times and sentiments of African Americans in general and black soldiers in particular during the World War I era. His scholarship is outstanding.--John Morrow Jr., Franklin Professor of History, University of Georgia

Meet the Author

Chad L. Williams is associate professor of history at Hamilton College.

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