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A Brief Look at African American Soldiers in the Great War

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This is a blog that explores the history of the Great War (WWI) and the lives of American Soldiers through out. It is featured by the US. National Archives in Washington DC. When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson undertook a massive propaganda campaign to expand support for the war. He declared that, America would help make the world “safe for democracy.” Democracy though, eluded an entire segment of American society who struggled with the realities of Jim Crow laws, legal segregation, and general racist attitudes. African American citizens across the nation—especially in the American South—had little access to high-paying jobs, educational opportunities, and suffered from disenfranchisement. Throughout American history, the military served as a prism through which to view larger social concepts, and the First World War was no exception. The Marine Corps excluded blacks entirely, the Navy restricted their service to menial roles as cooks and stewards, and the Army remained racially segregated. Despite this, many black men remained eager to reinforce their status as American citizens and fight for their country—hoping this would translate to broader social equality. By war’s end, roughly 370,000 African Americans served in some capacity.
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