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Class Year

2015

Abstract

The experience of African American veterans of the First World War is most often cast through the bloody lens of the Red Summer of 1919, when racial violence and lynchings reached record highs across the nation as black veterans returned from the global conflict to find Jim Crow justice firmly entrenched in a white supremacist nation. This narrative casts black veterans in a deeply ironic light, a lost generation even more cruelly mistreated than the larger mythological Lost Generation of the Great War. This narrative, however, badly abuses hindsight and clouds larger issues of black activism and organization during and immediately after the war. This study explorers early NAACP activism, the Garveyite movement, and the early foundations of the Civil Rights Movement.