Sidelights on Negro Soldiers. WORLD WAR I. AFRICAN AMERICANS, Charles H. Williams.

Sidelights on Negro Soldiers

Boston: J. Brimmer Company, 1923.

First Edition. 8vo, 248 pp, in publisher's brown cloth; no dust jacket. Corners and spine ends lightly bumped, paper slightly age-toned; very good. Although best-known as the founder of the Hampton Institute Creative Dance group, Williams (1886-1978) also served as "Special Investigator of Conditions Among Negro Soldiers in the World War." Under the auspices of the Federal Council of Churches, and with the recommendation of the Secretary of War, he spent eighteen months making observations, reviewing records, and conducting interviews with soldiers, commanders, and civilians in the United States and France. Here he offers finding on the African-American experience of training and camp life as well as in combat (devoting a chapter each to the 92nd and 93rd divisions), and also discusses the treatment of African-American soldiers by a variety of social welfare organizations in providing services to the troops. His conclusions were mixed. On the positive side, he reported that "as a result of the war there was co-operation between the races in communities where previously little or none had existed. The inter-racial committees that have been organized throughout the South are the direct outgrowth of efforts to work together in the course of the war." But he also noted that "Negro men went to war believing that a new day was dawning for them, and that loyalty to their country's cause in her hour of need would be the means of their enjoying in fuller measure the blessings for which they were fighting.... When the war closed, then it is unfortunate that the experiences of thousands of these men had embittered them instead of bringing them into the freedom for which they had longed."

Item #18956

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