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Role of African Americans in WWI

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Charlyn Nguyen

on 25 February 2013

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Transcript of Role of African Americans in WWI

The Role of African
Americans in WWI Fighting in the War After the War Question Time! The Beginning of World War I World War I began in 1914 but the United States remained neutral until 1917. Treated as second class citizens for years, African Americans saw this as an opportunity to gain respect from their white neighbors and prove their patriotism, so many enlisted in the army, but many whites protested against this greatly. Blacks were segregated even while serving in the army. There were four all-black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry Units and the 24th and 25th Infantry. However, these regiments did not serve overseas and were scattered across American territory, causing the African American community to protest. The War Department responded to this by creating the 92nd and 93rd Divisions and sending a part of these divisions overseas. African American men who enlisted were sent over to Fort Des Moines in Iowa for training. Approximately 380,000 African Americans served in the army but roughly 200,000 of them were sent over to Europe. The units were not allowed to take part in any of the farewell parades before they left for war. During the war, the African American soldiers spread their culture and music throughout Europe. Jazz soon became popular, especially in France and many European musicians attempted to replicate the music. One soldier that was significant in spreading black music was James Reese Europe, a lieutenant in the war and a leader of the army's jazz band who later gained fame in America. Instead of celebrating the end of the war after returning home in 1919, the African American soldiers returned back to a much harsher reality. Back home, many whites feared that when the soldiers returned they would use their training and military force to gain equality. As a result, anti-black riots erupted throughout many states and the rate of lynching increased dramatically. One result of World War I was the cut of immigrant labor, so many workers were needed in the North. There was an exodus of African Americans in the South as they moved to find work in the North. This became known as the Great Migration. Black culture soon became popular there, and the Jazz Age began where music and literature flourished. Question Time! Question Time! The soldiers that were in combat fought beside the French army. The 93rd Division received praise for their service, especially the 369th Infantry Unit, nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters. They were the first of the American troops to reach the Rhine River and fought the longest out of all the American units. For their extreme valor, they received the French Croix de Guerrre. Credits

Created by: Charlyn and Michelle

http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-world-war-i.html Most of the African Americans sent over to Europe did not get to fight but did work such as digging ditches, cleaning latrines, and transporting supplies instead. Those that did see battle were part of the 92nd and 93rd Division which were made up of about 40,000 soldiers. Back home, African American women held campaigns and rallies to provide moral support for the soldiers. Some joined war service organizations like the NACW (National Association of Colored Women) or Red Cross to meet the specific needs of the soldiers.
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