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African Americans in Times of War

Recruiting posters for African American soldiers  

Keene, Jennifer D. "Images of Racial Pride: African American Propaganda Posters in the First World War." In Picture This! Reading World War I Posters, ed. Pearl James. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

 

 

 

           

Private Homer Lawson in his military uniform Source: Ohio History Connection

Private Homer Lawson was born on September 8, 1892, Washington Court House, Ohio. In 1917 he volunteered for the Ohio National Guard, 9th Separate (Colored) Battalion.  He was with the 93rd, 372nd Infantry, Company K. Private Lawson was killed in action during The Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 28, 1918. In 1921, his body was returned to  the United States  and buried on August 16, 1921, Veterans section of the Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. American Legion Post #653 is named in honor of Private Homer LawsonThe Homer Lawson Post is one of two active American Legion Posts in Southeastern Ohio.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also known as the Maas-Argonne Offensive and the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. It was fought from 26 September 1918 until the Armistice of 11 November 1918, a total of 47 days.

The 372nd Regiment received the French Croix de Guerre with palm for distinguished service in the Champagne offensive, September and October, 1918.

 

  

Image credit: C. M. Battey, W.E.B. Du Bois, May 31, 1919 Library of Congress

Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) activist, author, editor, educator, historian, and life-long promoter of equality and social justice.  He used his position, as editor of the NAACP’s “The Crisis,” to protest against racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces. Dr. Du Bois hoped “The War to End All Wars” would improve the political and social conditions of nonwhite minorities in the United States.

 

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Close Ranks.” The Crisis, Vol. 16, No. 3, July 1918: 111

   

US 93rd Blue Helmets 

93rd Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia Public Domain

General John J. Pershing, Commander of The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), was reluctant to arm Colored Regiments for combat.  However, the French commanders had no problems arming and equipping Colored Regiments for combat, they were issued French helmets, rifles, and equipment but wore US uniforms. The 93rd earned the nickname “Blue Helmets” because of the blue-painted Casque Adrian helmets they wore. These regiments served with distinction on and off  the battlefield receiving official commendations and medals for service and bravery

 Decorated soldiers of the 369th (Harlem Hellfighters) return home with their French Croix de Guerre awards. Front Row: Private Ed “Eagle Eye” Williams, Corporal Herbert “Lamp Light” Taylor, Private Leon Fraitor, Private Ralph “Kid Hawk” Hawkins. Back Row: Sergeant H.D. Prinas, Sergeant Dan Storms, Private Joe “Kid Woney” Williams, Private Alfred “Kid Buck” Hanley, and Corporal T.W. Taylor.   National Archives Local Identifier, 165-WW-127-8.WW1 

                    

 

 

372nd Infantry Regiment Flag, 93rd Infantry Division Source: Ohio Memory

General John J. Pershing, Commander of The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), was reluctant to arm Colored Regiments for combat.  However, the French commanders had no problems arming and equipping Colored Regiments for combat, they were issued French helmets, rifles, and equipment but wore US uniforms. The 93rd earned the nickname “Blue Helmets” because of the blue-painted Casque Adrian helmets they wore. These regiments served with distinction on and off  the battlefield receiving official commendations and medals for service and bravery.

   

The 372nd Infantry Regiment Homecoming Parade - Broad Street Columbus, Ohio Source: Ohio Memory

The 372nd Infantry Regiment

National Guard Colored units from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia were organized into the 372nd Infantry Regiment. Upon its arrival to France, the 372nd was attached to the French 157th "Red Hand" Infantry Division.

The 372nd Infantry Regiment had the distinguished record of never surrendering or retreating and their participation in the Meuse-Argonne advance was decisive in ending the war after members of the 372nd were credited with taking nearly 600 prisoners, securing large quantities of engineering supplies and artillery ammunition. The regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.

    

African Americans in Times of War: A Select Bibliography

Arnesen, Eric ed. Black Protest and the Great Migration: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003.

Badger, Reid. A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Barbeau, Arthur E. and Florette Henri. The Unknown Soldiers: African-American Troops in World War I. New York: Da Capo Press, 1996.

Brooks, Max and Caanan White. The Harlem Hellfighters. New York: Broadway Books, 2014.

Brown, Nikki. Private Politics and Public Voices: Black Women's Activism from World War I to the New Deal. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Carisella, P J and James W. Ryan. The Black Swallow of Death: The Incredible Story of Eugene Jacques Bullard, the World's First Black Combat Aviator. Boston: Marlborough House, 1972.

Dalessandro, Robert J. and Gerald Torrence. Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2009.

Du Bois, W. E. B. and Daniel Walden. W.E.B. Du Bois: The Crisis Writings. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, 1972.

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Close Rank.” The Crisis, Vol. 16, No. 3, July 1918: 111

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Documents of the War.” The Crisis, Vol. 18, No. 1, May 1919: 16-21

Du Bois, W.E.B. “History.” The Crisis, Vol. 18, No. 1, May 1919: 11-13

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Hope.” The Crisis, Vol. 16, No. 6, October 1918: 268

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Returning Soldiers.” The Crisis, Vol. 18, No. 1, May 1919: 13-14

Du Bois, W.E.B. “A Ringing Call To Duty.” The Crisis, Vol. 17, No. 1, November 1918: 9

Du Bois, W.E.B. “The S.A.T.C.” The Crisis, Vol. 17, No. 1, November 1918: 7

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Soldiers.” The Crisis, Vol. 17, No. 1, November 1918: 8

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Soldiers.” The Crisis, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 1920: 120

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Young.” The Crisis, Vol. 11, No. 5, March 1916: 240-242

Du Bois, W. E. B. Writings: The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade; the Souls of Black Folk; Dusk of Dawn; Essays and Articles. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1986.

Ellis, Mark. Race, War and Surveillance Race, War, and Surveillance: African Americans and the United States Government During World War I. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Ferrell, Robert H. Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.

Fletcher, Marvin. The Black Soldier and Officer in the United States Army 1891-1917. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1974.

Foner, Jack D. Blacks and the Military in American History. New York: Praeger, 1974.

Franklin, John H. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. New York: Vintage Books, 1969.

Greenly, Larry W. Eugene Bullard: World's First Black Fighter Pilot. Montgomery: New South Books, 2013.

Gregory, James N. The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Grossman, James R. Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Harris, Bill. The Hellfighters of Harlem: African-American Soldiers Who Fought for the Right to Fight for Their Country. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2004.

Harris, Stephen L. Harlem's Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I. Washington, DC: Brassey's, Inc., 2003.

Haynes, Robert V. A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976.

Henri, Florette. Bitter Victory: A History of Black Soldiers in World War I. Garden City: Doubleday, 1970.

Heywood, Chester D. Negro Combat Troops in the World War: The Story of the 371st Infantry. Worchester: Commonwealth Press, 1928.

Hunton, Addie W. and Kathryn M. Johnson. Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces. New York: G.K. Hall, 1997.

Johnson, James W. Black Manhattan. New York: Da Capo Press, 1991.

Jordan, William G. Black Newspapers and America's War for Democracy, 1914-1920. Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2001.

Kilroy, David P. For Race and Country: The Life and Career of Colonel Charles Young. Westport: Praeger, 2003.

Kornweibel, Theodore Jr. "Investigate Everything": Federal Efforts to Compel Black Loyalty during World War I. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

Lentz-Smith, Adriane. Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Levering Lewis, David. W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919. New York: Henry Holt, 1994.

Little, Arthur W. From Harlem to the Rhine: The Story of New York's Colored Volunteers. New York: Covici, 1936.

Lloyd, Craig. Eugene Bullard: Black Expatriate in Jazz-Age Paris. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006.

Mjagkij, Nina. Loyalty in the Time of Trial. The African American Experience During World War I. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011.

Nalty, Bernard C. Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military. New York: Free Press, 1986.

Nelson, Peter. A More Unbending Battle: The Harlem Hellfighters' Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home. New York: Basic Civitas, 2009.

Roberts, Frank E. The American Foreign Legion: Black Soldiers of the 93rd in World War I. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2004.

Rudwick, Elliott M. Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

Sammons, Jeffrey T. and John H. Morrow. Harlem's Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2014.

Sandburg, Carl. The Chicago Race Riots July 1919. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1919.

Scott, Emmett J. Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War. New York: Arno Press, 1969.

Shellum, Brian. Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

Shellum, Brian. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.

Slotkin, Richard. Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality. New York: Henry Holt, 2005.

Sweeney, William A. History of the American Negro in the Great World War: His Splendid Record in the Battle Zones of Europe, Including a Resume of His Past Services to His Country in the Wars of the Revolution, of 1812, the War of the Rebellion, the Indian Wars on the Frontier, the Spanish-American War, and the Late Imbroglio with Mexico. New York: Negro Universities Press 1969.

Thompson, Donald and  S. M. de Moreno. James Reese Europe's Hellfighters Band and the Puerto Rican Connection. Sarasota: Parcha Press, 2008.

Whalan, Mark. The Great War and the Culture of the New Negro. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008.

Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.

Williams, Chad L. Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers and the Era of the First World War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Williams, Charles H. Sidelights on Negro Soldiers. Boston: B.J. Brimmer Co, 1971.

LETA HENDRICKS, JANUARY 2018

2018 Black History Month Theme

African Americans in Times of War

                       

The 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918 and explores the complex meanings and implications of this global struggle. The First World War was termed initially by many as “The Great War,” “the war to end all wars,” and the war “to make the world safe for democracy,” those very concepts provide a broad, useful framework for focusing on African Americans during multiple wars from the Revolutionary War Era to that of the present War against Terrorism.

African American and African Studies Librarian, Anthropology Librarian, and Comparative Studies Librarian

Leta Hendricks's picture
Leta Hendricks
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