Blacks in America’s Formative Wars: Racism from Without and Within

Although Black soldiers had helped catapult the United States onto the international stage, they themselves still endured second-class citizenship.  Black units served in both World Wars, and were commended for exceptional heroism in throwing back the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.16  This service is especially laudable when one takes into consideration that the Nazis had massacred two to three thousand Senegalese soldiers fighting for the French Army.17  For the first time since the Civil War, Black soldiers faced an enemy more racist than the people the Black soldiers were protecting by fighting. Yet, it was not until 1948, three years removed from the end of World War II, when the US military was desegregated.

One of the greatest ironies of American History is the constant service of Blacks in wars waged for rights and freedoms that they themselves were unable to enjoy.  Black soldiers fought two wars: One against the enemies of our nation and one against the prejudices of the people for whom they risked their lives. America’s war record is a testament to their success in the former and our ever-present racial divisions are evidence of society’s failure in the latter.

Notes

1. Beverly D. Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 7.
2. Leckie, Robert. George Washington’s War: The Saga of the American Revolution. (New York, NY: HarperPerenial, 1992), 181.
3. Terry Golway, Washington’s General: Nathanael and the Triumph of the American Revolution. (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2005), 296.
4. James D. Lockett, “The Lynching Massacre of Black and White Soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennesse, April 12, 1864,” The Western Journal of Black Studies 22 (1998): 85.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid, 88.
7. Ibid, 84.
8. Ibid, 91.
9. Ibid, 86.
10. James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988), 789.
11. Marvin Fletcher, “The Black Volunteers in the Spanish-American War,” Military Affairs 38 (1974): 48.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid, 50.
14. Ibid, 51.
15. Carl Ploense, “Ready and Forward Again: A Unit History of the 10th Cavalry Regiment,” <http://www.spanamwar.com/10thcavhist.htm&gt; (9 March 2006).
16. Gerald K. Johnson, “Black Soldiers of the Ardennes,” <http://www.bjmjr.com/ww2/ardennes.htm&gt; (13 March 2006).
17. Rafael Scheck, “They Are Just Savages: German Massacres of Black Soldiers from the French Army in 1940,” The Journal of Modern History 77 (2005): 325.

References

Fletcher, Marvin. “The Black Volunteers in the Spanish-American War.” Military Affairs 38 (1974): 48-53.

Golway, Terry. Washington’s General: Nathanael and the Triumph of the American Revolution.    New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2005.

Johnson, Gerald K. “Black Soldiers of the Ardennes.” <http://www.bjmjr.com/ww2/ardennes.htm&gt; (13 March, 2006).

Leckie, Robert. George Washington’s War: The Saga of the American Revolution. New York, NY: HarperPerenial, 1992.

Lockett, James D. “The Lynching Massacre of Black and White Soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennesse, April 12, 1864.” The Western Journal of Black Studies 22 (1998): 84-93.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Ploense, Carl. “Ready and Forward Again: A Unit History of the 10th Cavalry Regiment.” <http://www.spanamwar.com/10thcavhist.htm&gt; (9 March 2006).

Scheck, Rafael. “They Are Just Savages: German Massacres of Black Soldiers from the French Army in 1940.” The Journal of Modern History 77 (2005): 325-344.

Tatum, Beverly D. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? New York, NY: Basic Books, 1997.

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