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Black Men in World War I By: Ben Tatro. World War I  When WWI started in August 1914, Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation of neutrality.  After repeated.

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Presentation on theme: "Black Men in World War I By: Ben Tatro. World War I  When WWI started in August 1914, Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation of neutrality.  After repeated."— Presentation transcript:

1 Black Men in World War I By: Ben Tatro

2 World War I  When WWI started in August 1914, Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation of neutrality.  After repeated German Submarine attacks on civilian vessels and the loss of American lives Wilson and many Americans were furious and saw that as a huge violation of U.S neutral rights.  On April 6 th, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany.

3 World War I  Most African Americans supported the war effort.  They saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty and devotion to their country through military service.  W.E.B. Du Bois declared “If this is our country, “then this is our war. We must fight with every ounce of blood and treasure.”

4 World War I  In 1917, there were about 10,000 black regulars in the Army  There were more than 5,000 black men in the Navy, but mostly all of them were waiters and kitchen attendants.  The Marine Corps didn’t accept African Americans.  There were several all-black state National Guard units.

5 World War I  Although the military was extremely segregated, there was political pressure from black newspapers and the NAACP to commission black officers to lead black troops.  Eventually they allowed black officers, but they were confined to lower ranks and couldn’t be promoted past Captain.  There was an officer training school at Fort Des Moines, Iowa  The overall command of black units was in white hands.

6 Lieutenant Colonel Charles Young  An African American soldier who had already served in Cuba, the Philippines, Haiti, and Mexico.  He was eligible to lead black and white troops in World War I.  Several white soldiers complained and he was eventually forced to retire with the military authorities claiming he had high blood pressure.  Young insisted he was healthy and he rode a horse from his home in Xenia, Ohio, to Washington D.C., to prove it.  But he remained on the retired list until he was given command of a training unit five days before the war ended.

7 World War I  Most white military leaders and politicians embraced racial stereotypes and didn’t expect much from black soldiers.  As in earlier wars, black troops were discriminated against, abused, and neglected.  At Camp Hill, Virginia, black men lived in tents with no floors, blankets, or bathing facilities.  White men didn’t salute any black troops and black officers weren’t allowed admission to Officers’ Clubs.

8 World War I  Military authorities didn’t expect to use black troops in combat.  The military preferred to employ black troops in road construction, and as cooks and bakers.  Of ore than 380,000 black men who served in WWI, only 42,000 went into combat.  That’s 3% of the entire U.S army.

9 World War I  Black troops were offered little combat training.  During WWI black regiments received harsh criticism for their mistakes in combat.  White soldiers were more concerned with reminding Negro soldiers that they were Negro, rather than being concerned about having them be effective in war.  The 368 th regiment received some of the worst criticism. While fighting alongside the French they fell back in disorder.  Some soldiers fled and after the battle 4 men were sentenced to death and one to life in prison.

10 The 369 th Regiment  White officials bashed on a lot of the black regiments for their weaknesses in battle and they ignored the commendable achievements of the 369 th -372 nd regiments.  The 369 th regiment was the biggest standout of all black regiments.  They had an outstanding combat record and they fought alongside the French in some of the heaviest fighting in the war for 91 days straight.


12 The 369 th Regiment  They never gave up a prisoner or lost a trench during battle.  There heroic fighting style earned them the name “Men of Bronze”.  They lived up to their motto that they frequently shouted in battle which was.. Lets Go

13 French & Black Troops  Before the war and throughout the war the French were unfazed by racist warnings from white American officials.  They praised the conduct of black soldiers and accepted them as equals.  Following the victory by the allies in WWI, French authorities awarded the Croix de Guerre to the men of the 369 th, the 371 st, and the 372 nd regiments.

14 After WWI  Black troops returned to America on segregated ships.  Members of the 369 th regiment were not permitted to join the farewell parade in New York City.  Even when white Americans offered praise it was shot down with racist stereotypes.  The Milwaukee Sentinel offered a typical compliment: “Those two colored regiments fought well, and it calls for special recognition. IS there no way of getting a cargo of watermelons over there?”


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