Memorial Day 2013- African Americans in World War I and II

May 27, 2013

Remember yesteryear

Memorial Day 2013- Remember the African American troops of the 2 World Wars


For the first time in our nation’s history, Soldiers were fighting in Europe and among them were African American troops. Although they were denied the full blessings of the freedom in which they were fighting for, African Americans still volunteered to fight for their country hoping their military contributions and sacrifices would prove to their countrymen that African-Americans desired and deserved a larger role in the society of the United States.

Source: U.S. Army

African Americans World War I


African Americans World War I

African Americans World War I

Video: WW I – African American soldiers in France



With society’s view of African-Americans beginning to change from WWI, racist views were still excluding African Americans from much of the actual combat in both World Wars. By the 1940s, the nation’s political and military leaders began realizing the importance of African-American votes and started paying attention to demands. The U.S. military slowly began to reform with actions against discrimination and segregation within the ranks.

Source: U.S. Army

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

African Americans World War II

Video: African Americans in World War II


White and Black women in World War II

Video: African American Women Battalion (Women’s Army Corps) in World War II -Europe

Video: White Women in the Women’s Army Corps


Video: African American migration North in the era of the Great War


African Americans in the American Revolutionary War

National Park Service |U.S. Department of Interior

During the American Revolution the presence of enslaved African Americans were in the 13 colonies. Slavery was practiced in every colony in 1775.

The British governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, in November 1775,  issued a proclamation promising freedom to any “slave” of a rebel who could make it to the British lines. Dunmore organized an “Ethiopian” brigade of about 300 African Americans, who saw action at the Battle of Great Bridge (December 9, 1775). Dunmore and the British were soon expelled from Virginia, but the prospect of armed former enslaved Africans fighting alongside the British must have struck fear into plantation masters across the South.

African Americans in New England rallied to the patriot cause and were part of the militia forces that were organized into the new Continental Army. Approximately 5 percent of the American soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775) were black. New England blacks mostly served in integrated units and received the same pay as whites, although no African American is known to have held a rank higher than corporal.

It has been estimated that at least 5,000 black soldiers fought on the patriot side during the Revolutionary War. The exact number will never be known because eighteenth century muster rolls usually did not indicate race.

The use of African Americans as soldiers, whether freemen or enslaved, was avoided by the U.S. Congress and General Washington early in the war. The prospect of armed enslaved Africans revolts proved more threatening to white society than British redcoats. General Washington allowed the enlistment of free blacks with “prior military experience” in January 1776, and extended the enlistment terms to all free blacks in January 1777 in order to help fill the depleted ranks of the Continental Army. Because the states constantly failed to meet their quotas of manpower for the army, Congress authorized the enlistment of all blacks, free and slave, in 1777. Of the southern states, only Maryland permitted African Americans to enlist. In 1779, Congress offered slave masters in South Carolina and Georgia $1,000 for each slave they provided to the army, but the legislatures of both states refused the offer. Thus, the greatest number of African American soldiers in the American army came from the North.

Although most Continental regiments were integrated, a notable exception was the elite First Rhode Island. Mustered into service in July 1778, the First Rhode Island numbered 197 black enlisted men commanded by white officers. Baron von Closen described the regiment as “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.” The regiment received its baptism of fire at the battle of Rhode Island (Newport) on August 29, 1778, successfully defeating three assaults by veteran Hessian troops. At the siege of Yorktown, on the night of October 14, 1781, the regiment’s light company participated in the assault and capture of Redoubt 10. On June 13, 1783, the regiment was disbanded, receiving high praise for its service. Another notable black unit, recruited in the French colony of St. Domingue (present-day Haiti), fought with the French and patriots at the Battle of Savannah (October 9, 1779).

When the British launched their southern campaign in 1780, one of their aims was to scare Americans back to the crown by raising the fear of massive slave revolts. The British encouraged slaves to flee to their strongholds, promising ultimate freedom. The strategy backfired, as slave owners rallied to the patriot cause as the best way to maintain order and the plantation system. Tens of thousands of African Americans sought refuge with the British, but fewer than 1,000 served as soldiers. The British made heavy use of the escapees as teamsters, cooks, nurses, and laborers. At the war’s conclusion, some 20,000 blacks left with the British, preferring an uncertain future elsewhere to a return to their old masters. American blacks ended up in Canada, Britain, the West Indies, and Europe. Some were sold back into slavery. In 1792, 1,200 black loyalists who had settled in Nova Scotia left for Sierra Leone, a colony on the west coast of Africa established by Britain specifically for former enslaved Africans.

The Revolution brought change for some American blacks, although nothing approaching full equality. The courageous military service of African Americans and the revolutionary spirit ended slavery in New England almost immediately. The middle states of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey adopted policies of gradual emancipation from 1780 to 1804. Many of the founders opposed slavery in principle (including some whose wealth was largely in human property). Individual manumissions increased following the Revolution. Still, free blacks in both the North and South faced persistent discrimination in virtually every aspect of life, notably employment, housing, and education. Many of the founders hoped that slavery would eventually disappear in the American South. When cotton became king in the South after 1800, this hope died. There was just too much profit to be made working enslaved Africans on cotton plantations. The statement of human equality in the Declaration of Independence was never entirely forgotten, however. It remained as an ideal that could be appealed to by civil rights activists through the following decades.

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One Comment on “Memorial Day 2013- African Americans in World War I and II”

  1. Jueseppi B. Says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Love this post. A Special Happy Memorial Day to ALL Black American Soldiers, Past, Present & Future.


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