African American Studies _week 4

Week 4 – World War 1 and the Great Migration


Essay Question for World War 1 and the Great Migration:   How did World War I influence black people in the Southern United states to move to other sections of the country?



Although the fighting in World War I began in September 1914 in Europe, the United States did not join the war effort until after the 1916 presidential election.  In that election, President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected because he promised to keep America out of the war in Europe!  Nevertheless, in Spring 1917, the United States joined with Great Britain, France, and other allies to defeat the Germans. Before it joined in the fighting, the United States increased its manufacture of war materiel.

President Wilson was an ardent racist, so he did not consider integrating American fighting forces.

Please read the following articles:


1.  Segregated America:  Read this material from the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  Segregated – Separate Not Equal

· Read the information starting with “Segregated America” to “Separate but Equal”


2. African Americans – World War I.  This short article from the World War I Centennial Commission summarizes the experiences of the segregated African American troops in World War I.   Experiences of Black World War I Soldiers


3.  Article by Chad Williams in the November 2018  Time Magazine  about the treatment of black soldiers upon their return to the United States in 1919:  African American World War I Vets


4. Red Summer, 1919 – The Race Riots of 1919 from The National World War I Museum.  Red Summer – 1919


5.  “The Great Migration,” a 2014 article published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, explains how World War I led to the first part of the Great Migration.   The Great Migration


6. “Bound for the Promised Land,” by Ethan Michaeli.  This article was published by  The Atlantic  in January 2016.  It explains the role of the premier black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, in encouraging Southern blacks to move to the North.  “Bound for the Promised Land”


7. Poem by Roscoe Jamison, published in  The Upward Path  (1920), a book of readings specifically chosen for black young people to read.  It was also published in James Weldon Johnson’s 1922 collection of “Negro Poetry.”





These truly are the Brave

These men who cast aside

Old memories, to walk the blood-stained pave

Of Sacrifice, joining the solemn tide

That moves away, to suffer and to die

For Freedom—when their own is yet denied!

O Pride! O Prejudice! When they pass by,

Hail them, the Brave, for you now crucified!

These truly are the Free, These souls that grandly rise

Above base dreams of vengeance for their wrongs,

Who march to war with visions in their eyes

Of Peace through Brotherhood, lifting glad songs

Aforetime, while they front the firing-line.

Stand and behold! They take the field today,

Shedding their blood like Him now held divine,

That those who mock might find a better way!