African American Army Officers of World War I

A Vanguard of Equality in War and Beyond


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About the Book

In April 1917, Congress approved President Woodrow Wilson’s request to declare war on the Central Powers, thrusting the United States into World War I with the rallying cry, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Two months later 1,250 African American men—college graduates, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, reverends and non-commissioned officers—volunteered to become the first blacks to receive officer training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. Denied the full privileges and protections of democracy at home, they prepared to defend it abroad in hopes that their service would be rewarded with equal citizenship at war’s end. This book tells the stories of these black American soldiers’ lives during training, in combat and after their return home. The author addresses issues of national and international racism and equality and discusses the Army’s use of African American troops, the creation of a segregated officer training camp, the war’s implications for civil rights in America, and military duty as an obligation of citizenship.

About the Author(s)

Adam P. Wilson joined the department of history and philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2011. His expertise is in African American history. He lives in Arlington, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

Adam P. Wilson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos & illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9512-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2007-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Introduction  5
1. Debating the Use of African Americans as Soldiers  13
2. The Fight for a Segregated Officer Training Camp  29
3. Life at Fort Des Moines  45
4. Across the Atlantic—Fighting Two Wars  69
5. Legal Battles Against Segregation  111
6. The Black Press: The Pen Mightier Than the Sword  133
7. Mentoring the Next Generation  163
8. The Military Desegregated  172
Conclusion  182
Chapter Notes  185
Bibliography  207
Index  219

Book Reviews & Awards

“provides a broad cross-section of experiences…contributes to the history of race relations in the early 20th century…recommended” —Choice.