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Edmond Davis

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Patriotism Before Citizenship
By Edmond Davis   
Rated "R" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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An "R" rating for extreme truth that may cause pain. This document is fully entitled, Patriotism Before Citizenship: The Glorious Plight of the Black Servicemen in America from 1776 to 1948.

Patriotism before Citizenship:  Glorious plight of black Servicemen in America from 1776 to 1946

 

A research written by Edmond W. Davis paper presented and presented by Tuskegee Airmen flight instructor Milton Crenchaw

 

Tupelo, Mississippi

 

Spring 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preamble dedication statement

 

 

 

 

Variously called Negroes, Blacks, & colored the history of the African-American Servicemen and military affiliates are close to that of race relations in America.  We must realize that those blacks were not allowed to join the United States Marine Corps for a number of years.  We must remember the great strives we have made as a people and as a nation.  African-Americans fought in a multitude of conflicts, altercations, wars, and battles.   This article is an attempt to narrow the recognitions of service down to just the persons of African descent whom serviced in the United States military branches of the Army, Navy, Air force, Marines, and National Guard/State Militia.  By the virtue of what was just stated we will be excluding, but not forgetting the plight of the black Canadians soldiers, the Black British sailors, and the Black French servicemen.  These descendants of Africans are our brothers in arms and their service will not go unmentioned.  We must praise their contributions to the cultures of the countries respectively and collectively.  This topic is dedicated to the servicemen and women who fought, serviced, died, and became amputees for there our country.  Whether it was the Revolutionary War or the current War in Iraq we will see why we have the world’s greatest military.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of this document is to uncover the perilous & proud participation of blacks in the armed services.  We will focus on various triumphs, obstacles and issues that people of color particularly African-Americans had to deal with in fighting for this country.  This article will serve the purpose of explaining to you were these men fought so gallantly.  Patriots before citizens will help you understand why America is a colorful society and what it took for us to fully recognize this.  This article will liberate and touch your mind from the Revolutionary war all the way to the Vietnam conflict of the twentieth century.  We will discuss the more than 300 year odyssey of blacks in uniform, black on the battle fields, ditches, and yes in the air.

For the sake of credibility we must identify key words that will enable us further to understand what we are truly stating in the title of this speech.  First we must define the term Patriot, second, we must define the concept of a Citizen, and finally we must look up the word Soldier as it applies.  Patriot is defined as one who loves and zealously supports one’s own country according to Third College edition of Webster New world Dictionary.  To define a the meaning of a United States citizen what more reliable place of reference could out perform and fully spell out that of a US citizen than the United States Constitution.  This is one of the mighteous of American man-made documents and in it we have the fourteenth Amendment (1868), section 1 that reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the Unites States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[1]  According to the same source from Webster’s Dictionary third College edition, it states that a soldier is defined “as a member of an army, an enlisted person, as distinguished form an officer.”[2]  Having found credible sources and a historical document, it is safe to say that blacks have served in that capacity of serving ones country, belonging to a state,  being born in a state, and loving the country in which they have served.

Without further passage we must alarm you that the word Citizen was not defined as we know it today prior to its adaptation three years after the Civil Wars end.  In other words, in the Civil War era of the early 1860s the constitutional definition of citizenship had not been applied in any realm that was universally recognized by or for American culture especially regarding blacks, migrants and immigrants.  In most cases citizenship was defined by Race, class, and family lineage regardless of southern or northern heritage.  So we must realize that as we are paying homage to the people before us.

For decade Hollywood and the movie industry has portrayed people of color, more specifically blacks in inferior roles, having menial jobs, making white folks laugh, and not contribution any real significance to America.  No was this foolishness more evident than in the movie ‘Birth of a Nation’ by D.W. Griffith.  Made in 1915 and costing a whopping two dollars to see this movie, depicts a war torn south plagued with sex-driven, lustful, lazy, and savage negro men out to victimize white women.  These shenanigans Get gets the attention of the former confederates and cultivates the heroic re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan.  The Klan reestablishes law and preserves white womanhood from the useless black man.  This film was also used as a recruitment tool for the hooded order.  

 Another great film released in 1931 was King Kong.  In King Kong, you have a genetically and naturally oversized black alpha male gorilla who was very much interested in one thing; a white women and her bodily fragrance.  There is a sense in the original movie were she is unconscious and in the great hands of Kong, he then proceeds to plays with her clothing (moving his fingers around the area of her lower garments) giving him a kind of aphrodisiac response to these motions Kong in then seen smiling afterwards.  Kong’s actions in that sense in the movie can be considered sexual or erotic at best.  As far as the menial roles such as servants, cooks, gardeners, drivers, doormen, and nannies this can be seen in Television and cartoon shows.  The heavy set black woman with her colorful socks from Tom & Jerry, the nanny/ provider Hattie McDaniel’s in her Oscar-winning role in 1939 cinematic classic Gone with the wind to the roles of blacks in Three Stooges comedy series that often portrayed blacks cooking in the kitchens.  In has only been a recent effort in the last forty years to change this shattered image of blacks in Hollywood, but only in the last 25 years or so have we had real modern images of blacks in the military of this country and I am not talking about Chaka Zulu.

 Movies such Platoon, Tuskegee Airmen, Cadence, an officer and gentlemen, Hamburger Hill, dead presidents, and the critically acclaimed & winner of three Academy Awards® Glory (1989) all having since altered the American cultural perspective of the plight of black soldiers in general for the best.  Currently the present movie industry has done a better job portraying the roles of African-Americans and other minorities in the overall success of this powerful nation.  The message is clear; African-Americans cannot rely or depend on Hollywood, UPN, CNN or even the new BET (Black Entertainment Television) to educate our youth.  We need to give them multiple ways of exposure to their culturally rich past especially regarding the plight of the black soldiers.  The responsibility to educate these masses relies on the parents, guardians, real educators in our school systems, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). 

Growing up the in 1920s & 1930s my father exposed me to what he could, to what he was exposed to or to what was available to us as a family and to black folks collectively.  I grew up in the segregated south in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I am the son of a preacher and community activist named Reverend Joseph Crenchaw.  My legacy will be that of him and my successful children and adding to these wonderful things my tenure and privilege of serving my country with honor and in the process having been a Primary Civilian flight Instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen.  There were countless people before me and we were still breaking down barriers after I retired after nearly forty years of federal employment.  Now we must venture way back to the days of Revolutionary ways.  We must remember that black slaves in this era sided with whomever promised freedom and that depended on where you were at and how it was explained to them.

Revolutionary War for Independence

Most scholars define the timeline for the events of the Revolutionary war from 1775-78 to 1783 or the Treaty of Paris officially ending the transatlantic conflict.  The Boston massacre was actually a pre-revolutionary event that escaladed from the conflict between the English Colonists and the British Isles troopers.  On a cold early March night in 1770, a few patriotic sailors including Crispus Attucks, a black man well over six feet tall and of mixed ancestry (African & Native-American of Nantucket) began allegedly harassing British servicemen and allegedly began acting in a very aggressive nature brandishing non-gunpowder styled weapons.  By the end of the night Attucks and his aggressors lay dead of rifle gun blasts.  Some historical accounts record that Attucks was the first man to die for this country. 

The British shooters were assigned by the English crown a lawyer by the name of John Adams then our future president of the United States.  In court John Adams labeled Attucks as the lead instigator in the ruckus.  According to John Adams Attucks was a part of “a motley rabble of saucey boys, negroes, mulattoes, Irish leagues and outlandish jack tarrs”.[3]  Attucks was perceived by some for years as a villain in the Boston Massacre.  Historically speaking he was never enlisted into the any armed services division of any sort, but he did lay down his life for a just and patriotic cause.  He vocalized his thoughts of the mere Occupation of the British forces and the killing of a youth some nights before by a “Lobsterback”.[4]  So it is for this reason we are giving Cripus Attucks a well deserved Honorable Mention for his acts of patriotism before he was fully recognized as a citizen. 

Other individuals whom served in the war often go unmentioned due to the fact that many of these people were slaves.  And pitted against the life they knew as slaves many fled and became royal navy shipmen of the British crown.  Some Slaves & former slaves and Natives-Americans were persuaded to join the loyalist (British) cause in exchange for freedom and arms.  Many men of African descent have fought in wars on the loyalist’s side in the British royal navy.  One such instance is that of the true story of Nigerian born Thomas Peters who was kidnapped & gave years of his life to slavery.  Peters along with his young family would be faced with the life altering decisions to join the British contingent, become a soldier and eventually relocate to Canada or rely on the word of his oppressor whom promised him freedom in the aftermath of the war if he had fought.  We report now you decide, Thomas and his wife had chose a life far better than that of slavery and ran away from the plantation that they were on.  Make no mistakes about it; African-Americans had been positioned in various fronts in this War.  Freedom was the ultimate goal regardless of what side one chooses to fight for.  Many more followed the interesting paradigm of Thomas Peters and eventually gained their freedom in other places like Sierra Leone, Nova Scotia, and the Caribbean upon defecting to the British side.  

Well before his presidency George Washington originally attempted to bar all blacks from service in the continental army.  This move was however reconsidered since Lord Dunmore the British Governor of Virginia verbally expressed interest regarding the freedom of the slaves.  The Governor of Virginia would give arms to any slave that escaped or wanted to fight for the Crown.  Washington was forced into letting blacks fight in the war effort.  Thousands of black soldiers would be enlisted.  Nowhere is this more evident than when Washington’s vessel crosses the icy Delaware River and into Trenton, New Jersey and part of his crew was comprised of blacks. 

Black soldiers served in ever facet of the military during the Revolutionary war.  Blacks were critical role-players to the military industries of the Infantry, cooks, teamsters, Minutemen, labors, and scouts (recognizance) were all dynamics in this collective effort.  The Sons, Grandsons, and great-grandsons of Africans also fought in various blood battles such as the battles at Lexington, Saratoga, Stony Point, Concord, Ticonderoga and Bunker Hill.  In the aftermath of the battle at Bunker Hill two Blacks were singled out for the honor of special recognition by the military for their gallantry there names were Peter Salem(Prince) and Salem Poor.[5]  Blacks from New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia all turned out in large quantities to serve in the patriotic cause.  Some states individual contingents were made up of mixed battalions, motley, mixed ranks, majority and minority black groups.  For those who are unaware of this word or the context in which it was used “motley” was defined as, “of many colors[6]  It is not until many years later that we recognize the heroic efforts of the patriotic Peter Salem. 

In Massachusetts his name is of legend.  What happened can be best described in David Burke’s Black Heroes of the American Revolution when a British Column reached Lexington where they planned to seize powder and weapons stored by the patriots, the redcoats were faced by a small band of patriotic Americans drawn upon the village green.  Major John Pitcairn the British commander orders the rebels to scatter and go to their homes and open fire when they refused.  Amongst those who returned fire upon Pitcairn’s men was Peter Salem, a slave who marched in from the nearby town of Framingham as a private in the company of Captain Simon Edgel.  Salem was armed with a flintlock musket like most of the other patriot soldiers on the green, and he fired and loaded throughout the brief fight, until Major Pitcairn called for a retreated and the British marched back towards their base in Boston.[7] 

As we begin to learn more about this interesting character later to be called ‘Prince’ Peter Salem would have another confrontation with the British Commander Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.  For the details we go back to Burke Davis’s book which read, “Salem took aim at Major Pitcairn as he was rallying the British troops and shot him through the head.  The major fell dead just as he was shouting to his men; “the day is ours”.  Soon afterwards white soldiers of the New England army raised money to reward Peter Salem for his bravery and the black hero was presented to George Washington as the man who had killed Pitcairn.”[8]

As previously mentioned blacks in the military had a unique rallying call to fight.  Most fought for total freedom and other merely just wanted to serve their country.  There was an entire company of former Negro slaves that blossomed into the unit called the ‘Ethiopian Regiment.’  This regiment swore their allegiance to the British and operated under Lord Dunmore.  The Ethiopian Regiment was the fighting think-tank of about 300 men & they all wore sashes proclaiming “liberty to Slaves.” [9]  

The War of 1812

Between 1775 and 1815, black sailors represented nearly 20% of the military personnel at sea.  Black seamen also participated in the Quasi-War with France fourteen years prior to the War of 1812.  Some Black seamen lived a roller coaster of a live & this also can be included the war of 1812.  This was a war that was mainly fought at sea and some black men were either called to duty or enlisted into the navy voluntarily as sailors.  Some of these men were killed in battle, and some were captured thus becoming Prisoners of War.  Some U.S. servicemen were pressed into joining the British as was the case with the men of the Chesapeake confrontation in 1807.  Many of the prisoners were sent to Dank Dart moor (Dartmouth), which was an English-based prison that facilitated approximated 6000 American Soldiers whom a great deal of were black soldiers.[10]  These black soldiers were held in separate holding blocks and there was a former prisoner turned barrack leader named Richard Crafus.  Crafus was formerly a sailor in the war of 1812 and was often called ‘King Dick’ because most of the prisoners were in the height between 5’6” and 5’9”, Crafus was just less than 6’4” tall and by that virtue alone he earned the respect of all the prisoners, the disputes he defused, and carrying a club with two assistants at his side.[11]  It comes to no surprise that Crafus was seldom trifled with.  Upon his capture he mentioned that he was from a town called Vienna and he often used the last name alias ‘Seavers’.

There are other instances of documented cases that describe battles that blacks fought in and nowhere is this more evident than in the battles of Lake Erie, Lake Champlain & New Orleans.  More specifically in the battle of Lake Erie (1813) where the most noted commanding officer Oliver Hazard Perry had requested for reinforcements thought his superior officer Commodore Isaac Chauncey.  To the surprise of Perry, Chauncey sends a unit of “blacks, soldiers, and boys”.[12]  The previous term ‘motley’ was used again in the Perry analogy when describing black soldiers.  These accounts help us to understand the jargon of that day regarding minorities in battle. 

The battle of New Orleans was another front were blacks served and when it came to the issue of payments for veterans Andrew Jackson wanted all soldiers be paid regardless whether they were “white, black, or tea”.[13]  It must be mentioned that one of the reasons why the British and the United State became re-hostile towards each other prior to 1812 was that there was an international incident seven years earlier in the Norfolk Harbor area.  This event often called the Chesapeake Affair involved four men, three of whom were men of color.  The only true turncoat according to the British was a man of European descent named John Wilson.  These patriots were taken by the British by reason of suspicion for being deserters in the Royal Navy.  Daniel Martin, William Ware, and John Strachan were all accused and were the persons held in the matters of detainment.[14]   After a violent seaborne encounter between the USS Chesapeake and the British Leopard vessel a resolution had been temporarily met.  It is believed that two of the colored men returned to the United States and one died in England.  Some historians have pointed to earlier events like this as a precursor to climatic wars & etcetera. 

The state of Louisiana allowed free blacks to join their state militia, but this was a move that would soon be viewed as a minority decision.  Sadly after the War of 1812 Blacks become victims of marginalization regarding military service.  The implementation of various state, local, and national military guidelines/laws all had to do with the limiting or total exclusion of blacks, mulattoes and Native-Americans in the military.  An example of this is the 1820 congressional act that prohibited the enlistment of blacks or mulattoes in the U.S. Army.  This was reinforced by a subsequent regulation issue by the army in 1821, limiting the service to free white males.  The states militias instituted similar restrictions.[15]   Soon blacks and other men of color would be assigned non-combative mess responsibilities.

Menial Duties Assigned (Mess)

In the face of domestic terror or foreign confrontations these same groups of excluded persons were the same ones first called upon to fight in the name of a patriotic cause.  Between the War of 1812 and the Second World War the roles of blacks in the military were curved to menial positions.  More evidence of ‘mess responsibilities’ & coal heaving can be recollected thought the annals of the Mexican-American War and our military history.  During this intercontinental conflict racial hostility is quite visible were almost no blacks saw action especially outside of Texas.  The Mexican-American War was a short lived one and was a fight fought by sea and by land.  After the Mexican-American war we begin to see many examples of racial discrimination.  Nearly all other future conflicts until the post 1948 integrated era in the United States Military practiced some degree of unfair treatment. 

Such practices of discrimination are documented in World War I & World War II.  The WWI example of this can be told in the life of William Grant Still, a Navy sailor with assigned food duties and the attending of superior officers.  William Grant Still only served one year after it was discovered that he was a skilled violinist/musician. Only a generation later Texan DorisDorie’ Miller gave blacks menial servants a gust of bravery and a dash of patriotism.  Dorie Miller was a World War II Navy cook during the attacks on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii & he was credited with shooting down Japanese Kamikaze fighter pilots.  Nearly 40 years later our nation would be again faced with a major national crisis in the Civil War.

The Civil War

This conflict would be one of the domestic natures. The Civil War would see West point Graduates do battle with each other and fellow cadets send their brothers to fight against each other.  This war had to do more with states rights and the issues surrounding the institution of slavery than anything else.  The Civil War only lasted for four years, but in the aftermath domino effect proved to resonate for generations.  The north was led by President of the United States Abraham Lincoln and the South by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

186,000 blacks served in both armies in the Civil War and more than 2,500 were killed in action.  Blacks were originally detailed to perform menial tasks as they were not believed to possess sufficient intelligence to react well in battle.[16]  In the fall of 1862, the First Kansas Colored Volunteers were the first all black group of soldiers to see action from a free state and not the famed 54th Masschacussetts blacks.  It is widely believed that there initial encounter in Missouri on Island mounds was the battle that gave them national recognition.  A New York Times® journalist had been present and recorded data during battle.  This battle pitted the courage of former slaves versus his ex-slave masters in swampy terrain.

The Volunteers were ordered with the objectives to clear out William Clarke Quantrill’s raiders.  In the insueing battle the reporter noted,” What I narrate, I saw myself,” and he wrote that for the benefit of the readers who didn’t think black people could fight.[17]  Following a rebel defeat courtesy of the first Kansas Colored Volunteers, one of the retreated Confederate leaders said,” The black devils fought like tigers.... not one would surrender.”[18]

Black Confederates in the South

An often taboo topic that is somewhat controversial & sensitive would be the role that blacks played in fighting for the south.  Blacks who fought in the Civil War did so under the under the leadership of Robert E. Lee.  Commander Lee was considered by many to be the Civil Wars greatest general, but in a losing effort.  To the disbelief of many, the Confederacy had its fare share of African-American representation in the War.  Most black soldiers would only be included towards the end of the war.  The move to include blacks was based on the shortages in manpower.

 

  Some people view this as embarrassing & foolish others see it as patriotism at its best.  Whatever angle or position you have on this issue, it is as much of a historical fact than anything that blacks served the southern states and died with there white brothers on the battlefields.  Freed blacks and Slaves were used in the recruitment move.  Critics began to question the allegiance of blacks and this is heightened by the fact that blacks are now armed and organized.  For white southerners the issues of trusting a black man with a gun was just as equal to a worrying about the Union advancements.  Southern African-Americans soldiers fought on the battlefields in large numbers in the Civil War.  Some Historians say the numbers were as high as 90,000 men ranging from the ages of 16 to 60.[19]  The confederacy if fact did have loyal blacks as was the case of George Washington Yancy.  George W. Yancy was captured three times by union officials & upon his release returned to the Confederacy where he swore his allegiance. 

Now on the flipside, sometimes the south was not all that forgiving when it came down to the capture of black soldiers as in the Fort Pillow massacre.  In spring of 1864, in Lauderdale county, Tennessee not far from Memphis on the Mississippi River Fort Pillow was occupied by a group of White and black unions troops.  The north and south would come to battle.  It is widely speculated that the confederates led by Major General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest outlasted the Yankees and accepted the surrender of the White troops only.  The slaughter of all of the African-American troops on that spring day was the honor given by Forrest for their services.  Nathaniel B. Forrest would eventually create one of America’s First Terrorist organizations after the Civil War named the Klu Klux Klan only a year later.  This incident would be known as the Fort Pillow Massacre. 

Stonewall Jackson had a great deal of blacks under his wing especially in Virginia.  In 1892, a Union scout commented on the presence of blacks serving in the Confederacy.  In Frederick, Maryland, the Chief inspector of the United States sanitary commission Dr. Lewis Steiner wrote: “these were shabby, but not shabbier or serdier than these worn by white men in the rebels ranks.  Most of the Negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks etc.” [20]    

The 54th Massachusetts

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment volunteer infantry was another famous group of Black servicemen during the Civil War. It was well documented that “they proved that bravery had no color” according to the history channel movie Civil War Journal.  The 54th was the first northern black regiment in the Civil War.  Just like many other groups of black soldiers in this era, the 54th had an ‘All White’ officer core.  This was the reality of the day because it was difficult to see blackmen as gentlemen.  Most of the members of the 54th resented this and felt like it was a form of servitude, second class citizenship or even slavery without the slavemaster.  The 54th would get a true Bostonian to lead them and he was from a family of abolitionists.  Colonel Robert G. Shaw was giving the daunting task of commanding these soldiers.  It initially took a while, but eventually mutual respect was gained between the black soldiers and their white commander.

The United States government promised the 54th Massachustts the equal pay of their white counterparts of $ 13 dollars, but in only received $ 10 dollars and $ 3 of that went to uniforms (Wool).  Many blacks protested the pay and the financial mistreatment.  Many of these men were Doctors, engineers, & respected & educated-elites of their communities.  The men came form various northern states like New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennslyvania and New Jersey.  These men were portrayed in the movie Glory in the late 1980s and are most remember historically for the lost battle in South Carolina, but the gained respect the nation over.  Abramham Lincoln was fully aware of the contributions of black soldiers and noted that it would have not been possible for a northern victory without them.

Buffalo Soldiers

From battling then Native-American plainsmen to fighting the Spanish Armada the Buffalo Soldiers proved to be a reliable fighting infantry in combat.  One person that often goes unmentioned in a high school history class is Cathay Williams also known as William Cathay.  On November 15, 1866, Cathay Williams enlisted as William Cathay into the United States Army thus becoming the first African-American female servicewomen ever or record.  Cathay Williams had been through multiple physical examinations, but no one discovered her true femininity.  She served for two years as a Buffalo Soldier in the thirty-Eighth Infantry, Company A. 

In 1879, the Ute War erupted in the plains and most of the reinforcements called consisted of African-Americans Buffalo Soldiers.  This was their main call to duty in that part of the country.  A situation occurred when the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th & 10th Calvary intervened in an uprising to save another unit from defeat at the hands of the Native-Americans.  The location of this incident was near the White River in Northwest Colorado.

Historically speaking the Ute War was a short lived war, but it would be best remembered for the verbal commentary used by the natives.  Before we dissent the battlefield Psychojardon know that mind teasing comments are quite normal especially given the details of close proximity battles.  This same process is echoed thoughout many conflicts that involve black men.  One other such conflict was Vietnam.  Vietnam is a more recent example of what the enemy was trying to say to the Blackmen in war effort.   The Vietcong Communists fighters frequently messaged to the African-American soldiers in the Jungles that ‘this was not their war’ in other words ‘go home Blackman’. 

The Ute War was very similar & dramatic.  It was full of elements that were racially, socially, and historically charged.  The black’s soldiers fighting under the oppressive government of the majority white rule.  The Natives wanted to expose this hypocrisy.  The Ute’s took every opportunity in a three day period to infiltrate the mind of the battle-tested Buffalo soldiers.  The Ute’s said things like, “Black-White Man”.[21]  And in singing at other times: “Soldiers with Black face, you ride into battle behind the White soldiers; but you can’t take your black faces off, and white face soldiers make you ride behind them”.[22]  All blacks in the armed services did not have the honorable distinction of being involved in actual combat a good portion of them served in the menial degree.  This war would not last long as the Unions’ forces eventually defeat most of the Native-American resistance.  The Buffalo Soldiers also fought bravely in the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Some of them rode side by side with Former President Theodore Roosevelt and in his Rough Riders regiment in Cuba.

World War One (I)            

Historians, scholars, and educators alike collectively agree that the events that led up to the world’s first true global conflict was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Isabella.  The killing of the heir to the Austrian throne sent nations to war in Serejevo in 1914.  Blacks participated in this war of technological firsts.  In this war of first, we witness the dawn of airplanes and arieal assaults, history also records the invention of Garrett A. Morgan called the ‘Gasmask’.  This battlefield nessessity would eventually save millions of lives worldwide. 

 

In World War One many black men where recognized in Europe before getting credit for bravery in the United States.  Historicially speaking this was the height of the lynching era and the racist idea of blacks in the military was still not welcomed by much of white America.  Member of the 369th infantry Regiment wear the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) awarded to them for bravery by the French Government.[23]  Most of these men were giving the most demeaning work by U.S. commanders everywhere. 

We begin to why scholars such as Dr. William Edward Burthard Dubios and other intellectuals raising issues regarding federal loyalty to black whom serviced during the first world war. Dubois pointed out that many blacks return home after fighting aboard and when they get home many unjust things await them.  African-American women especially those aboard served the war effort in a unique fashion.  The American expedition in France in 1917-1918 saw black women serve in auxiliary roles such as with the Red Cross and the Young Women’s Christian Association.[24]  These women assisted with boosting the soldiers’ morale.  Dancing, gambling and entertainment were amongst other things were provided for the soldiers.  Native-Americans and Asian-Americans also served with distintion in World War One.  

World War Two(II)

According to the League of Nations this second World War was not suppose to have taken place.  And now the United Nations is currently in place to do the very same thing that it’s predecessor could not & that is the prevention of a global conflict.  This last great world war led by the greatest generation would not have been won if it were not for the multicultural efforts of Nisei Japanese-American soldiers, the Native-American Code talkers, the Mexicans in the Bracero program each playing a irreplaceable role in the formation of our nations inclusive and colorful military.  Women of all colors and creeds had special places in the grand scheme of things. They rolled up theerre sleeves and worked in the factories, armories, and the industrial sectors.  The one group however that stands out is the Tuskegee Airmen.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Airmen of Tuskegee Alabama were the first military group of black Aviators, pilots, and airmen.  They served with remarkable precision.  They hold the aviation record for not having lost a bomber to enemy fire during WWII.  The program started off as a social and racial government experiment to train black pilots just in case the need were to arise.  Well the need arose on December 7 1941.  And from there on the program would grow and manifest from an a project to a successful branch of the army (aircorps) and airforce.  Tuskegee was visited by many powerful and influentical personalities like Henry Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Eleanor Roosevelt was the Wife of then President Franlin D. Roosevelt.  The first lady would be giving a firsthand view of how capable black men could fly.  Some say it was’nt until the satisfaction and excitement of the first lady that the program gained a sort of validation in the eyes of many.  We must also recognize that she was advised by the secret service not to fly with pilot Chief Anderson, but she insisted and the rest is history.

This men overcame so many obstacles at home and aboard.  The historical term for this is referred to as double V or victory. Black pilots shot down jim crow in the skies overseas and in the southern United States.  These aviators knew they were making history.  Many pilots and squadron commanders were fully knowledgeable of the turmoils surrounding the failure of this program.  Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Charles Anderson, Milton Crenchaw and Charles Foxx were all in leadership roles during the start of the Tuskegee Airmen flight school.  All of these great men were Instructor Pilots.  At Tuskegee, there were more than just pilots and Instructor Pilots, they were cooks, engineers, facilitators, ground-keepers, auxillary workers and women in place during this time.  There were nearly 20,000 people employed during the Tuskegee hayday, nearly 1,000 of whom were actual pilots trained to see combat.  Between 1941-1946, this program would eventually overcome all odds and breakdown all barriers for minorities & primarily black America.  In 1948, President Harry S. Truman de-segregrated the United States Military with the executive order 9981. This would pave the way for future generations of multiracial military instillations globally. 

In conclusion, the price was high, especially for minorities in America.  They had to prove multiple points to be excepted, and treated as equal even in the face of wars and conflicts.  Between a Revolutionary war and a second World War, millions of men and women fought and died for this country and in the process the global rules changed, but sadly the social norm in the U.S. most of the time was still far behind that of the rest of the modern world.  In that same time period blacks stood in harms way on many occasions to defend our way of life and for freedom. 

 

  

 

 

 

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Reviewed by Edmond Davis 9/22/2010
This document can be used for several American History classes.

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