Segregation During the First World War

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As war spread across Europe in 1914-1918, black Americans saw a second opportunity in which they could use the war to their advantage, in securing the respect of their white neighbours. This contemporary conflict brought about great controversy within the black community, being asked to fight for a democracy on behalf of a country in which they did not receive equal treatment. Many activists did support the war effort, including DuBois announcing ‘while the war lasts [blacks] must forget [their] special grievances … fight shoulder to shoulder with white fellow citizens… For democracy’ (Heinze, 2003). Paradoxically, when it came to the drafting of the volunteers, blacks came under a total polarization of customary discriminatory practice. Blacks were instructed to tear corners of their registry cards, thus becoming easily identified, to be inducted separately to white volunteers. (Murray, 1971). Now, under usual circumstances, the Black citizens would be turned away, the war office began doing all they could within their power to bring them into service, and surprisingly, this was most common among the Southern boards, demonstrated by the Confederate army during the civil war. The army established a more progressive attitude toward race relations than mainland America, by the end of 1917, African Americans served in cavalry, infantry, medical and engineer positions. The war allowed for the black Americans to begin asserting their citizenship, protesting racial injustice on

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