We Return Fighting: World War I and the Shaping of Modern Black Identity

Smithsonian. Nov. 2019. 144p. ed. by Conwill, Kinshasha Holman. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781588346728.
Gr 9 Up–African Americans served in every war fought by America, but World War I fundamentally changed how they viewed their position in American society. Segregation in the U.S. Army continued as troops were deployed overseas; however, the four African American units of the 93rd Infantry Division were placed under French command and were treated as equals and comrades by the French allies. Experiencing racial equality overseas encouraged a generation of black men to return home and fight for their civil rights. The treatment these black veterans experienced emphasized the great cultural chasm that still existed in post-Reconstruction America. After the war, gold star mothers (women who had lost children to military service) were still segregated by the U.S. government. The paradox of fighting abroad for rights that were not received at home was not lost on the black troops or their families.
VERDICT Using photographs, images of objects, and medals, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has created a rich compilation of visual sources to present an extremely important segment of American history that needs to be preserved. An essential purchase.

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