'The Negro should not be used as a combat soldier': Reconfiguring Racial Identity in the United States Army, 1890-1918

Title'The Negro should not be used as a combat soldier': Reconfiguring Racial Identity in the United States Army, 1890-1918
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Volume46
Issue3-4
Pagination277-298
Date Published07/2012
Abstract

When the United States entered the First World War, the nation's Jim Crow politics contributed to the general rejection of African American men for war-time military service. Only after political pressure from black and white progressives threatened to spill over into the public sphere were the 92nd and 93rd Divisions organized and sent to France. This policy has long been studied and criticized by historians, particularly in light of the long service of the United States Army's four ‘colored regiments’, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments. However, in spite of the presence and distinguished service of these four black regiments, the War Department and the army demonstrate a morally ambiguous record of racial tolerance that allowed for the exclusion of Blacks from military service with the American Expeditionary Forces. This record is highlighted in the work of two of the army's medical officers, Charles Woodruff and Robert Shufeldt, whose work on medical ethnology and racial degeneration reveal critical justifications that were not only used to argue for the exclusion of African Americans from military service, but also, in the post-war period, to marginalize the black soldier's combat record and support the view that black men were unfit for future military service.

URLhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0031322X.2012.701498
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