tv The Great War and the Culture of the New Negro CSPAN June 3, 2017 12:18pm-12:32pm EDT
incredibly rich collection in depth and scope, these primary sources, documents, something that he did, are essential to scholarship on ken kesey and his writings. these materials were available for people to use, any researcher can come here to use the collection. we are thrilled when people come to use the ken kesey papers. >> our visit continues with local offer mark whalan as he examines the culture and lives of african-americans during world war i in his book "the great war and the culture of the new negro". >> decided to write that because
i was interested in world war i. the kind of literature that is taught in schools. the national conversation. that was not true for literature in world war i in the united states and one of the gaps in this story is what is produced by african-americans and drawn to that to figuring out what stories african-americans were telling about the great war, african-american writers, its impact for race relations in america and the long history of african-american culture and identity. african-americans were caught up in america's entry into world war i as all americans were. african-americans volunteered, but liberty bonds, volunteered to serve in the military, and
often with mixed feelings, entering world war i to make the world safe for democracy. very often didn't feel safe or democratic. very unsure about going to fight for political principles. those kind of debates. nonetheless, a large portion of americans decided the best course of action was to serve, the best they could in the hope, the patriotism and that kind of energy would be a kind of bargaining chip, reconstruction
would gain greater rights and proved to america at large about the value of their contribution and investment in the national project. the earliest fiction i looked at was a little while after american entry. we are considering what the attitudes should be, and the alias controversies with american offices. and black and white units would be established separately and combat divisions, and although -- by white americans in the ranks, only african-americans
were serving. for a while there was a controversy whether african-american offices would be commissioned or whether all of the staff offices would be wide. there was a political controversy. black press were involved in agitating for black offices which was a difficult decision. this is a segregated unit, endorsing segregation, but at the same time we saw it as an opportunity, which is incredibly important to the pulse at the time. much more limited avenues for training and demonstration then there would be today. being an officer, someone who experienced combat, as it is now, empowering entities to have.
that was very interesting, agitating -- and graduating around 700 offices. that was going on. by the middle of 1917, calamitous events, one of the preexisting black unit in houston. and harassing treatment in houston, into the town to get involved with local residentss involved in 150 soldiers being court-martialed and executed a few days after the trial.
in st. louis, black workers, a new shortage because of the war, in europe before the war. drying african-american workers, and industrial areas like st. louis. the black population, a lot of them got a race riot, very targeted vigilante action. summer of 1917, these are brenda's moments of violence. the african-american office could figure out what to make of that, in france and belgium but at the same time they are being terrorized at home and also
white politicians are getting a lot more nervous about training african-american men in warfare because they had seen what happened, they are worried this would take place on a huge scale, many training camps were in the south, worried this would be something across the country. these are the early issues that are taking place. only half of the african-americans that served, that was true, to be enlisted, 200,000 made the trip. and the most important things than the heart of the nation,
the international experience does. this was something that bothered white racists, mississippi senators, african-american troops, the attention they had from white women was forever unfit to live in the south again. and there was an uptick, in 1919, sometimes called the red summer for race riots that took place in that year. and in the previous years, 16 of those were service men still in uniform, and these communities,
where and raging and conflict were african-americans came home. and it didn't have the impact of americans hoped it would. one newspaper at the time, all of the rewards for my service in the war, african-americans play doublecross, this idea that they had served, many had died, hardship as part of that service but the long-term consequences change. they wanted the restoration of the franchise in the south, stricter enforcement, anti-segregation rules in the north, and a kind of revised
access to skilled trades and labor unions, it didn't occur. there was a feeling of disillusionment in african-american society on the one hand. the immediate political games they hoped for did not materialize. from my perspective, one of the major impacts was cultural. and connections forged with african intellectuals, related to the events going on in the war. and carried forward, philip
randolph organized marks on washington, the start of a journalist, and african-american magazines in world war i, and civil rights leaders, in the 1950s or 60s as an era of monumental progress in civil rights. and sewed the seeds for radicalism. it was a war which again not for the first time posed the dilemma about serving a country which so poorly served you and the kind
of ambivalence which attend to that. and amazing moment in which political losses, demoralizing experiences through the action of culture, the action of literature, music, those things could be built into a culture in a way which was trying to salvage messages of hope, messages of resilience, of ingenuity and imagination and courage which would be important contributions to that culture at large. how writers, artists, etc. were
really setting down a legacy, of african-american service, useful for later generations, in some ways we didn't want to sugarcoat the disappointments which happened in the war but nonetheless they wanted to take forward pride, and education for being involved, for the next generation. >> in eugene we caught up with james moore, licensed to practice which chronicles how easy it was to practice medicine in the 19th century and how in 1889, us supreme court decision changed all of that by turning on unregulated occupation to a recognized profession.
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