W. E. B. Du Bois and the Wounded World: Seeking Meaning in the First World War for African Americans

TitleW. E. B. Du Bois and the Wounded World: Seeking Meaning in the First World War for African Americans
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsKeene, Jennifer D.
JournalPeace & Change
Date Published04/2001

In his unpublished & published writings, W. E. B. Du Bois struggled for fifteen years with multiple interpretations of the WWI's significance for African-Americans. Du Bois argued that the war was a futile exercise brought on by capitalist imperialists, but then glorified the military accomplishments of black soldiers & the chance African-American soldiers had to experience the joys of being treated as equals by the French. The urgency he felt to present his version of the history of WWI reflected his belief that unstable race relations would likely mean another war in the near future. The possibility of a Pan-African community emerging from the war fascinated Du Bois, & he hoped the war would provide a way for the black world to reunite & become a political force. Du Bois also wanted the white world to take note of the central role Africa & black soldiers played in the war. Du Bois, however, gradually became disillusioned with the notion that war could serve as a vehicle for positive social change as he realized that postwar economic problems had intensified racial hatred throughout the world. He also doubted the ability of WWI to serve as "the war to end all wars" until the problem of racial prejudice was solved. In the end, Du Bois rejected war as a way to advance the economic or political interests of the black world. Adapted from the source document.

Short TitleW. E. B. Du Bois and the Wounded World
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