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tv   African Americans and World War I  CSPAN  December 27, 2017 10:36am-11:36am EST

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the c-span bus tour continues its 50 capitals tour in january with stops in raleigh, columbia, atlanta and montgomery. on each visit, we'll speak with state officials during our live washington journal program. follow the tour and join us on january 16th at 9:30 a.m. eastern for our stop if in raleigh, north carolina. when our washington journal guest is north carolina attorney general josh stein. >> c-span is created as a public service by american television companies. >> american history tv continues on c-span3. next, a discussion on how world war i impacted after can americans. university of minnesota professor sage matthew believes
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that african-americans promise of a better life because of military service was largely denied by the reality of jim crow america. this discussion is about an hour. >> now, the national world war i museum and memorial with the world war i centennial produced an education letter that focuses on the best resources available to teachers and learners. those that are created here like the videos of these symposium lectures. you can go back on to our youtube channel and see some of our previous lectures, as well. but we also focus on those excellent educational resources of our partners like the national archives, stanford history education group and our most recent newsletter addressed americans all.
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and how in our diverse nation groups and individuals affected the world and were affected by it. african-americans and the promise of 1917. dr. matthews specializes in 20th century american and african-american history with an emphasis on race, war, globalization, immigration, social movements and political resistance. keep your eyes peeled. she has a new book that will be coming out, the glory of their deeds, a global history of black soldiers and the great war era. she has also graced the stage of the famous fitzgerald theater,
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minnesota historical society. so help me welcome her to our stage this afternoon, dr. sage matthew. >> good afternoon and thank you for being here and thank you, laura, for that wonderful introduction. i'm new to the club so i have to embrace the reality that i can't get as much done without them. i think most people really want glasses until they actually need them and then it's not so fun. so my name is sage matthew, as mentioned. and this afternoon, i will be moving at quite the pace. so that i can squeeze everything in our 45 minutes and have plenty of time for questions. i welcome them. so if they pop up as i speak, do write them down. lafayette, we are here. african-americans and the promise of 1917. one of the enduring myths about
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the great war, both at the time and in contemporary literature is the idea that african-americans did not, in fact, think very much about or care about world war i. or the at the least they didn't until late 1917 or 1918. and that is absolutely not true. part of this seductive appeal of believing african-americans didn't care about the war at all fits into the notion that they were either too simple or too naval gazing to really caref about what was happening abroad. in point of fact, african-americans had been writing extensively about the great war as early as 1914, even before the war itself breaks out. so they're already start to go keep an eye on what's happening and reporting about it extensively and regularly in the african-american press. before i move any further, i
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want you to remember that first and foremost, african-americans are americans. something that we forget far too frequently. so this afternoon, i hope to hit on these main areas. first, the import of the war for african-americans, how african-americans thought about and talked about the war globally. how for them it was then a local war. this idea of a french utopia and an enrapture with france and the cost of war for african-americans. what do i mean when i say african-americans are first and foremost americans? like other americans, they, too, wondered whether peace was a viable path. they wondered and questioned what exactly was their duty to -- as americans but also as african-americans, did they have
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any actual duty in this imperial conflict between european kissing cousins. how? the war, should they support it, should we as a nation get into it, how will that war derail the civil rights work that african-americans were involved in even before 1914. so this would have included in particular challenges to jim crow laws and by 1915 african-americans are pouring their resources, their pone, their attention, their educated young people into fighting in particular the grandfather clause and obstructions to the vote. in addition to these questions, of course, african-americans are really consumed by the pivotal importance of jim crowe and american life. it's important for us to remember that by the time the
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great war begins in europe, jim crow, the set of laws and practices that reinforce segregation, jim crow is about 20 years old. so we're talking about this first generation of african-american men who were born and raced under the jim crow's jack boot, if you will. and what do we make of them? is this the assessment of the race's future? the other thing african-americans are thinking about are things like the reality they're rounding the 300th anniversary of the african's encounter of the americans. we're thinking very carefully and writing about 50 years since the end of the civil war and in some respects reconstruction and its failed possibilities. they're talking about -- they're looking at the end of slavery in
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patriotic. they're talking about to a lesser extent, but nonetheless, it's happening, the end of the war of 1812 and 18 14. they are especially concerned with the american encroachment in the caribbean, especially in the case of haiti. and so they're thinking both locally and globally. and probably the thing that dominates african-american concern is this is violence. we talk about lynching and how much of a problem this is, how it comes to define unfairly in many respects an entire the region of the country when lynching is happening almost everywhere in the country. but the additional practice of racial terrorism that deeply concerns african-americans, in fact, terrorizes them, is the
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bizar bizarre macabre practice of lighting african-americans on fire. mott just their property. so arson is a problem, but lighting black people in particular on fire. so, again, these are the kinds of things that we're talking about and, therefore, an important back drop for how, then, african-americans will compare and contrast their position with what's happening in the rest of the world. even before african-americans suited up for war, they were aware of other black people involved in the great war. right? in particular, african soldiers who are normally referred to as -- [ speaking foreign language ]. regardless of where they're from, they're going to be called
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senegalian sharp shooters. they're concerned about them, they're concerned about black people who are, as a result of being in the british empire drawn into the war and canadians. and i'll come back to that. these men and women articulating these political concerns are known by a term that w.e.d. dubois coins the man on your right. they're called soldiers without swords. and while this is a term that will become -- that will come into greater use after the war, mun the le nonetheless, it captures this sense of urgency for african-americans. yesterday, dr. keen talked about how organizations are in their stage of infancy at this time. it's important for us to remember that so, too, are african-american newspapers, right? and so for these men and women who are professionally trained, college educated, usually elite college educated, the newspaper
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will become an important way of not only legitimizing and explaining the war, but also legitimizing and explaining their professional voices. right? as these intellectual activists, the soldiers without swords. the man on your left is monroe trotter who makes everyone else seem soft. harrer va harvard educated, unrepentant. he becomes a thorn in woodrow wilson's side because he holds the president's feet to the fire. he is in particular known for opposing or at least questioning the terms under which african-americans will enlist in the war. but also really coordinating an international campaign to quash the release of birth of a nation, the homage to the klan that comes out in 1915. one of my favorite quotes by
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w.e.d. dubois on the war and, again, he writes this before the united states enters the war officially and he says, absolute loyalty in arms and in civil duties need not for a moment lead us to abate our just complaints and just demands. so for african-americans like other americans, they will say, against the accusation that they lack patriotism, they lack a robust understanding of a citizen's duty to their nation. he will say instead, no, it is precisely because i understand the true meaning of patriotism that i say that my country must listen to our urgent needs and must respond in exchange for our support. this is exactly what women are doing, right? and let's be clear, war is a perfect time for concessions or at least ask for them because you're needed.
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it's true. it's totally true. another person who is -- i describe her as a little lady who packs a lot of punch who, in fact, made the case for the urgency and the alarmings practice of lynching long before her male counterparts understood this problem, but ida b. wells is another such journalist who is writing about the war and writing about this crisis, both moral and physical for african-americans. until the case of wells, it's important for us to remember that they have connections overseas and they're able to tap into those allians to find out what's happening in europe, to
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find out what humanitarian responses might be needed and to bring that information back to african-american communities. african-american journalists who are gathering at a conference in washington, d.c. and trying to outline what will be the key issues that they press with the president. you'll notice that there are in the front row some french soldiers who are already there and some french diplomats who are involved in this war. dubois and trotter are right at the center of this photograph. this meeting proves so contentious, woodrow wilson decides that he will no longer have african-americans come to the white house to air their grievances. the man could hold a grudge, because by the versailles treaty
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and negotiations, he also refuses to hear and have an audience with dubois in particular but african-americans writ large. this political cartoon captures perfectly for me how african-americans thought globally and also used this global language to reflect back on the case of the african-american experience. this is from the crisis magazine. the script that was on the bottom, voice of the congo, if you only left us our hands, albert, we could be of more use to you now. this, to me, is very powerful, because it makes clear there's an interest for african-americans in these global debates, an absolute
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understanding of what's happening, an indictment of what was happening in the belgian congo before, but also a warning for americans of what could happen here in their own time of need. so there are a few countries that african-americans talked about repeatedly leading up to 1917 and used these as platforms for a sublimation of their own political concerns, this of course in addition to a genuine humanitarian concern for these locations. so it's serving double duty. in the case of belgium, african-american activists would say in some respects what the germans were doing to the belgians was a come uppance and
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this kind of brutal exploitation was the very essence of a belgian moral decay. and that is what awaited americans if they did not pull back to their commitment to racialized terrorism. for many african-americans, south africa is in a close second especially with its growing dmoigrow ing commitment to apartheid. you s poland and ireland are frequent guests in african-american newspapers, in part because african-americans will hold onto those two countries in particular as kind of a hope for
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an independent successful independent future for otherwise oppressed europeans. sometimes in the case of poland, they'll even talk about how they're europe's negros. russia is very important for african-americans prior to 1917, both because again the patterns of pothe revolution in 1917, th becomes a place where it seems possible to topple the impossible. so for african-americans it will become a way of talking about what they might want to consider for themselves.
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and finally, the armenian genocide, a matter as early as the 1890s. there are so many echoes between the experiences of african-americans and marmenian, including this bizarre practice of lighting people on fire. african-americans pool very limited resources and create either programs or campaigns to help these imperilled europeans. by 1917 african-americans will have a campaign to raise money to send enough baby food to take care of belgian babies for three months, they will pledge by 1917 to raise $1 million for african
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orphans and their widows. so there's this constant repeat in the newspapers of what's happening in the newspapers to african soldiers over there. while the u.s. is still debating whether african-americans should be part of the war in 1917, african-americans will be saying the french have been doing this and the british now for three years. why are we still talking about it? there's even a very bizarre case of a jamaican born turned austrian fanatic who wins the iron cross for the austrians in 1917 and he is celebrated in the african-american press as, again, a possibility of what can happen when you take jim crow out of the equation. so we're talking about a population that is
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overwhelmingly working in a cash poor sector, cotton farming. to take the few dollars that they do get when they get them and to make the decision to spend them on in effect an abstract concept, african soldiers all the way over there and to make that decision as early as 1914 is again another way that the war is something that african-americans start to contemplate a lot earlier. and of course african-americans will talk about the caribbean as a cautionary tale, because they believe and dubois would be in that group, that the united states is stretching itself into the caribbean trying to make it yet another deep south under the distraction of war. so haiti, puerto rico, even the panama canal zone become these hotly contested racial spaces.
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and african-americans think this is only the start. the attraction are the deep ports that are available in some of these islands like the danish west indies. there's another problem, the british. canada was making a hard sell to great britain to have a caribbean island, ideally jamaica given to them as a thanks for coming out with us war gift. and we nearly got jamaica as a province, but instead got newfoundland. no fair. but canada needed its own deep south. it needed to prove its modernity by having black people they could control. and there's a lot of concern over what to do if we'd have this extra island, because we
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don't necessarily have a legal jim crow structure like the united states. so african-americans are keeping an eye on all these different spaces as the war is unfolding. one of those spaces is of course france. and where african-americans are joining the war before as individuals, just like other americans. so here we have eugene bullard. what's important here is that african-americans are seduced by the same language of patriotic marshal heroism. the core promise of jim crow, of segregation, is when racial lines hold, violently if
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necessary, blacks and their inescapable inferiority will be confirmed. when we see eugene bullard here, what's dangerous about him isn't that he's an ace pilot fighting alongside ivy leaguers in france. it's that we see this healthy body decorated with awards, the very embodiment of manliness that is not supposed to happen. this is an aberration, a mistake. and worse the french are celebrating him. this question of black men in uniform will be such a prickly one that after the war we have abupti an uptick in soldiers being
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attacked. the canadians are so distraught but what they see happening in the united states that they take the added precaution of requiring that their black soldiers take off their uniforms before they even board the ships in great britain to come back to the americas. again, this spreads beyond the simple american borders. images like this would also have been problematic for many in america. these are the french elite cavalry and they are working with training with african soldiers that i mentioned earlier, roughly translated as african sharp shooters. by war's end, at least 500,000 african soldiers will have served under the french flag alone. that doesn't even yet account for the british, the west indians, the black canadians who
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also joined the armed forces. so americans enter world war i having thought about a black marshal experience before they reach european shores. here we see a picture of a canadian battalion. you're not looking at canadians. what you're looking at are largely americans. by michael clay calculation, african-americans constituted at least 40% serving under that flag. that doesn't even yet includes descendents of african-americans whose ancestors came as black loyalists or who came during and after the war of 1812. this is also an army that has a robust representation of west
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indians. the british will float them up from the caribbean at halifax and have shipment across. what i see when these men are coming, they are arriving largely from the detroit area, but not exclusively. many of these men are coming from georgia, florida, alabama. and they're citing at the border that joining the army is a correction to unemployment. we're getting a concrete remind their the great migration expanded beyond chicago and cleveland in the way that we normally talk about it, that these men continued seeking work wherever that work was available. if it meant crossing borders, then they did. crossing the border would not have been easy for black people at this time, as canada adopted
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a ban on african-american immigration in 1911. there are all of these shady ways of keeping these men out. what i love is that canadians were not very good at identifying race, though they wanted to be. they had -- so you see on the enlistment records like i think he's black, but i'm not sure. he looks sallow. all the different words they use has become quite comical for me. now i can decipher them. they'll describe them as yellow, as perhaps not well cleaned at the end of the summer so they've tanned and can't really tell. my brother would fall in that category. it points to this desire to identify race but this inability
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to do it as well as the americans. bizarrely, once the canadians mandate that everyone must serve, then they actually send headhunters down into the united states to bring back canadians who had moved and brits and west indians who moved to the united states and forcibly marched them back to canada to serve. the reason cited for not wanting black soldiers are, of course, comical, including my personal favorite, they would not look good in kilts, because so many were in highland units. one often over looked way that african-americans had been engaging in this war physically and intellectually is that african-americans had been cutting across the atlantic
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since 1914. the men working ships, mending, caring for the horses and mules that the british and french were buying by the hundreds of thousands. new orleans and newport news, virginia were awash in black people, southerns ers who had n only been keenly aware of this war but had navigated the submarine infested waters back and forth. there's a great case of a sinking that i don't have time to talk about right now, but again i spent the summer writing about it. there's something weird for all of us who are historians. when you find a great story, i find a sinking, this is going to be great. oops. but i was definitely that happy. now, of course the putative war,
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that's what war meant to african-americans before we turned to europe. the quote under this political cartoon said uncle sam, did you send the eighth regiment of illinois to protect this country or to be shot down by texans. so african-americans were seasoned soldiers. so in fact in the press what you see are these constant references to having been in the war of independence. they'd been in the philippines. there is no question of not only their patriotism, but their marshal heroism. so they found it quite insulting that there was any public debate about it, but that it took so long for the wilson administration to make firm decisions. going into the war, there were approximately 10,000 career soldiers and another 5,000
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african-americans who were national guardsmen. after the mutiny in houston, rather than send them to france as the first wave, we in fact send them to the deep parts of the philippines and the deep parts of hawaii in order to quell this concern that if you taught black men to shoot, the first thing they would do would be to turn those guns onto white people. for african-americans this is an added insult because they feel as though they are in fact well-positioned to serve their country. and in the case of the putative expedition, pershing had singled
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them out as his right hand men, if you will. there had even been some atte t attempts at informal integration during the putative expedition. pershing had turned the other cheek when it came to integrated brothels in mexico. he will swing to the total opposite when it comes to france. there were for african-americans also some heros, like here charles young, a west point graduate. for most, he seemed like the logical choice as a black officer who could then lead ideally african-americans, but whoever else wanted to work with him into battle. and of course we know that the war department would have none of it. they forcibly retire him. and one of the concessions that we get instead is this officer training camp in fort des moines, iowa, a location selected, the war department
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said, because it was in the middle of nowhere, 400 acres landlocked in iowa, that iowa because it had no people had no racial tensions. specious logic. and because they were in the middle of nowhere, that would in principle also make it harder for white women to get to these men. so this officer training camp becomes the embodiment of hope and promise for african-americans in 1917. it's not just soldiers. this is also a camp where nearly a thousand african-american medical professionals are being trained and hoping for a commission, though none will get to be in charge of black troops. jim crow requires commitment and resources. so this is a photograph of african-american dentists who are being prepared to send over
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to france. when you're talking about a country that has only 478 black dentists for 10 million people, the impact of a single loss is felt greatly on that community. in the 50 years of howard university's existence, it had graduated roughly 4500 people and half of all of the doctors in the country. howard was the university that sent the most medical doctors into this war, nearly 20%. so the impact on the cost for african-americans is great. and for them then is a measure of their commitment and contribution to the nation. so black fraternities, historically black colleges and universities are the first to respond to this call to war and in particular this culling of
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the nation for officers. but women, of course, respond as well. and while the red cross initially banned black women, once the influenza outbreak begins, they realize they are going to need help. so they ask for 2,000 black women. as with white women, these were not just nurses, but they were also as part of that talented tenth, that rare educated crust of american society, these were women who spoke french, who spoke german and therefore were also translators, cultural conduits and in the end the red cross will have 16 black nurses in france for 50,000 soldiers. so what we get as our starting
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point for 1917 is a replication of a nation carefully crafted since jim crow, replicated overseas, black white, black white, black white and not necessarily together. even the hostess huts or hostess houses that the ymca set up overseas were separated by race. we have here again a photograph of black women who were at that officer training camp in iowa. and here we have motor corps women driving around helping wounded soldiers as they find them. we know there was a lot of concern about what to do with these black men socially, because if nothing else, the women are white in france and the french are looser in every kind of way. so we have a lot of these
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photographs reassuring americans that the disruption -- the language they used at the time is we can't get the french ruin our negros with -- it's about a sexual ruin. it's about an idealogical or political ruin. they're especially concerned in 1917 that communists will get to the black soldiers, especially disgruntled russians who are still stuck in france and that they will start having all of these ideas. we know there's also a concern of not just germans, but also japanese and mexican getting into african-american minds. why are we concerned about the ruin of our black people? it's in part because they're on the move. they are voting with their feet by leaving regions where it is no longer feasible to maintain a
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healthy lifestyle. so we always think of this great migration as being forced by a panic over racial violence. and of course that's true, but it's also because of floods and over types of -- the collapse of cotton prices have made a barely sustainable life altogether impossible. and the army's pay of $30 a month, in cash no less, will have its own seductive appeal for people leaving the region. only about 5% of african-americans left the south in 1916. so african-americans are still largely southern, rural farmers even into world war i. in fact this army's ability to pay in cash will be a reason cited for why african-americans
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could not be excused from service. they'll say the $30 you'll make with us is more than you would have made cotton farming. so even if you have dependents, you still have to go and do your bit for the nation. here i wanted you to remember that the way that african-americans move will be determined by the preexisting networks and paths available to them. so the mississippi and steamship is still the cheapest way to get out of the south. rail lines and actual roads -- so there are several rail lines that go along that yellow vector that you see there. and this is partly what speeds up that migration and to be able to get that money in your pocket and buy a ticket for the first time. this wonderful painting really captures that promise we're talking about. it's children, it's old people,
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it's people in top hats and it's people with a rag on their head. it's really an opportunity for african-americans like europeans who were coming here to follow their dream through a migrant experience. however, 1917 is also a year of extreme violence. these are just five locations where we have race riots between may and late fall of 1917. precisely as we were asking african-americans to die for their country, they're being killed in their country. the one that is best known, of course, is east st. louis. it's written about as a labor dispute that unions had been opposing or calling attention to the fact that african-americans were being brought in as strikebreakers. they respond violently and there is what happens. in truth, it's much more
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complicated than that. what's more disturbing is the role that white women and children had during the east st. louis crises and the accounts of ripping people's hair out and hitting them with frying pans and so on. it really indicates the level of vistrio vitriol. the response by both the local press and to a certain extent the government, the response of saying that, you know, if african-americans fought back, it's really because the germans were whispering in their ears. it isn't something they would have done all by themselves. they've always been happy with their oppression, if they had an opinion at all. the thing is that i argue that this turn to a german or
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japanese or mexican plot actually allows for greater surveillance of african-americans, especially african-american intellectuals under the espionage act. unless it's the work of an enemy, there's not as great of an urgency. this is also a period then for african-americans where there's a heightened surveillance of their talented tenth. it is said of hoover that he cut his teeth trying to silence these african-americans. but they're no fools. they quickly adopt alternative ways of making themselves heard. this is the silent parade that we get in 1917. emphasis on the word parade. they deliberately do not call it a march so as to ensure that it is a patriotic act and not a
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protest. it is a celebration of what is right. that is, the first blood for american independence was shed by an african-american, a reminder in this various signage that we see up 5th avenue in new york. these are church women, children. they're wearing white, the color of mourning, but also a color of protection, so that if shot, if stabbed, you could see it well on the photographs, a strategy that is continued through the civil rights movement of the 1950s. as with other parts of society, african-american children are mobilized in support of this war. here we get a news boy selling war bonds. judging by his missing front teeth, he's about 6 or so years old.
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we have posters, poems, recipes, again, reminders of how black women could stretch a dime into a dollar with respect to their food during the war, all of the work that's needed. and by the same measure, all of the support from those communities that we ask of other americans. the committee for public information even develops a negro section for its propaganda and has black men, black films, black posters, postcards, like this one here but meant to make african-americans feel as though they are part of an important moment. so france, this utopian space,
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89% of african-americans who went over to france, did so as laborers in particular. when you got to france whether you're an american or other allied forces, what you saw in these dock cities were all black people manning them. so the north has about 40,000 african-americans. a tiny town on the western coast which today if you go there's a huge cargill depo. they've adopted the footprint that the americans have. we have early race riots as a result of these enkucounters on the docks. these are not soft pawed men. they're not even just african-americans. in the united states, in the case of philadelphia, 50% of long shoremen were actually
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jamaican. in the case of miami they control the union and they're bahamian. these are the same people working these docks. these pictures are in stark contrast to these kind of colorful magazines, prideful soldiers, beautifully healthy looking and manly. this cpi poster produced in 1918, but know here that the african-american sole judges are both keeping the germans at bay and actually killing them in the dead center near the flag and nobody's wearing overalls or lifting a crate. so this disjunction between the propaganda and what african-americans are actually doing is very complicated and the press, the black press certainly addresses it. when these african-americans arrive in france, what do they
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encounter? well, they encounter a continent that has spent a lot of the war thinking about, fighting over race, including -- this one says that's what they call a savage over here. [ speaking foreign language ] >> this idea that african-americans came to france and were welcomed with no particular attachment to race is nonsense. the french had been using their own tropes to encourage black enlistment and denigrate their german enemies. where they suffered very high losses and this idea championed by the general here on the right, this idea that france's
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secret is its black force, its black power, the ability to call up an almost inexhaustible number of black people from the colonies who would be thrilled to do their part for the empire. it's the least they could do as a thank you gift for france's civilizing mission and the gift of language and religion. this is what he actually said. he told africans they had a blood oath to france and it was their job to step up for the blood letting. he said he would rather see ten black men dead to one frenchman. that is the french response, not singularly to have black people killed, but in truth the french
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are like a black body will stop a bullet like anybody else's. we're not that particular. while we've been waiting for the americans to come, they can catch a bullet as well as anybody else as well. we're happy you're healthy. get in there. it's not some deep passion for americans per se. we have plenty of examples of an exploitation of americans as kind of green. the germans had also been very crafty in proving themselves capable of manipulating a race card in this war, pointing out that black people were cannibals and that's what they were going to do if put on the western front. they were barbaric as peoples.
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so there are already all of these debates about race in europe long before the african-americans get there. when they do, they fall into some immediately predictable stereotypes as the happy music playing people. here we have them sent on a 25-city tour to play for sometimes european dignitaries and sometimes just for people who are in a hospital and sick. the canadians quickly put a black band together and send them on a tour as well. you know, we have a lot of these pictures of african-americans with instruments, rarely with actual weapons of war, which becomes an easy way to make light of their contributions, not just because fewer saw combat, but the work that they did overseas, the overwhelming
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majority who were in labor battalions did women's work, blue collar work, cooking, cleaning, digging toilets, cleaning toilets. so that's not the stuff that gets you a vote and that's certainly not the stuff you can lean on after the war in order to be taken more seriously as a citizen. i will end here with the pictures of captain stuart alexander and lieutenant frank robinson who were just two of men african-americans who earned the french bravery decoration in battle. these decorations that you see on these men will become for african-americans another powerful measure of a failed possibility in 1917, that the french recognized what the americans were all too ready to
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hang on a tree or light ablaze. that for many will be the real shame, the real loss of the war. i promised at the beginning that i would talk about the cost of war for african-americans. so how timely that i am on my last slide just as laura is coming down. i want to end with the impact of the war. the war halts civil rights campaigns. those things i started with, the money sent to support legal cases, legal challenges to jim crow cars, jim crow restaurants, unequal pay for black teachers. instead that gets redirected towards suiting these guys up for war, making sure they have the socks they need, the candy they need, the care packages they need, the right kind of rifle, the right things to keep them warm, the right things to
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keep them happy. it is a strain on already limited and meager resources, both in terms of income, but also food. we're talking about people who barely had any food to begin with, to ration still more because of the war. it is a dramatic loss of that talented tenth, that generation to have made it through school, to have graduated from medical schools, to have graduated from law schools. the people, the professionals that we need in order to keep up the fight against jim crow. those with the know how are left in europe is a tremendous loss of medical professionals that we cannot afford and that will take too long to replace. it leads to a greater police surveillance of african-american communities, especially in the north. that will slow civil rights like nothing else. and of course the war era gives us an absolute spike in lynching and race eye yacriots and those
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attacks that i talked about such that it will become the main thing that consumes african-americans between 1917-1920. there's a tremendous amount of promise for african-americans in 1917 and that is what they carry when they cross the atlantic. you'll have to come back next year to find out what happens afterwards. thank you. [ applause ]. >> we have just a short amount of time for a question. >> you had a couple of references to pershing. but given his history of leading black troops all the way back to the spanish american war, what can you say about it and did he acquiesce? what were his views? >> pershing, what a mess. his experience with african-american soldiers even predates the spanish american
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war. he was involved with the buffalo soldiers in the indian wars and the border wars even before the philippines and cuba. he has a mixed experience. on the one hand, his white peers mock him by initially calling him nigger jack. then it gets cleaned up to blackjack pershing. but i have read this man's biographies. i've read more than i ever kacad to. he never expresses any particular affinity for black soldiers. neither is he concerned nor disdainful of them. when it comes to world war i, he is obsessed with having a perfect army, no matter the cost. black dots are not a part of it. i think that his willingness to
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send black combatant troops to the french really -- it's an easy solution to his problem. if they fail, as he expects that they will, then it's all the way over here and no one will write about it and talk about it. you know, it's over, the experiment is finished. so wie can go back and say to te african-americans, we can't have an african-american army, you guys sucked. if they succeed, which they do, then it's all the way over in france. and with censorship, well, the news never quite made it over. he gives the french what they want which is american soldiers they can com and train. but he has no particular regard for them, certainly by world war i. >> i know there are more questions in this auditorium. the pleasure of being in the room where it happens is you are
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going to have the opportunity during our break potentially to ask those questions. i would also encourage you -- most of your name tags have two difficults tickets in there to use those for dr. laura as you ask her questions. >> you think i come for cheap. >> please join me in thanking dr. sage matthew. >> [ applause ]. >> thank you. congress is out for the week and the rest of the year. next week the second session of the 115 congress begins with the senate returning wednesday, january 3rd with two new democratic members, alabama's doug jones and minnesota's tina smith. the house returns monday january 8th and plans to work on
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government funding with temporary spending expiring on january 19th. also, this year's state of the union address on tuesday, january 30th. as always you can watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span 2. next on american history tv, a discussion on black voter suppression. university of kentucky history professior tracy cample talked about the voting act. his talk is followed by journalist hank glibnoff. he discusses the 1948 murder of isaiah nixon who was killed after voting in georgia's democratic primary. this is part of a


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