African American Army Officers of World War I: A Vanguard of Equality in War and Beyond

By Pope, French D.,, III | Military Review, September-October 2016 | Go to article overview

African American Army Officers of World War I: A Vanguard of Equality in War and Beyond


Pope, French D.,, III, Military Review


AFRICAN AMERICAN ARMY

OFFICERS OF WORLD WAR I

A Vanguard of Equality in War and Beyond

Adam P. Wilson, McFarland, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2015, 236 pages

Historian and philosopher Adam P. Wilson demonstrates how African-American officers during World War I used the skills developed as military leaders in a segregated U.S. Army to lead change during the Civil Rights Movement. This is a valuable book for those interested in the history of African-American officers who fought the two simultaneous battles of war and racism and their effect on civil rights. Wilson describes the military officership of African-Americans prior to World War I, during World War I, and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Prior to World War I, only a handful of African-American Army officers served outside of a war. In the first two chapters, Wilson lays out an excellent history of African-American soldier and officer service prior to the war. In chapter 1, Wilson describes the way white Americans perceived African-Americans. Wilson goes on to describe the struggle of African-Americans to attain officership through the United States Military Academy. Chapter 2 highlights the social and political fight to start a segregated African-American officer training camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa. This chapter highlights leaders including Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington, who applied pressure to the War Department and the president to initiate an officer training camp. Howard University students, previously enlisted noncommissioned officers, and middle class lawyers and doctors made up the core of the cadets in the first training camp.

The second portion of the book details the lives of the officers through training camp and during World War I. …

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