Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., is a professor of history and the chair of the history department at Chapman University in California. A specialist in the American experience during World War I, she has written several books on the war: World War I: The American Soldier Experience (2011); Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America (2001); and The United States and the First World War (2000). In addition, she is the lead author for an American history textbook, Visions of America (2nd ed., 2012), that pioneers a visual approach to teaching the U.S. history survey. Keene serves on the advisory board of the International Society for First World War Studies and is an associate editor for the Journal of First World War Studies. She has won many awards and fellowships, including Fulbright Senior Scholar awards to France and Australia. Her research interests include the American soldier experience, African-American soldiers, veteran political activism, war culture and propaganda.
In World War I, African-American soldiers faced two struggles for democracy, one at home and one abroad. A thriving wartime industry of unofficial propaganda posters within the black community presented these African-Americans soldiers as the vanguard of civil rights activism. Military service indeed politicized African-American soldiers who initiated collective action for civil rights while in uniform and, as veterans, continued this fight through campaigns to secure veterans benefits. This lecture presentation will detail African-American soldiers’ experiences as civil rights activists, symbols of black manhood and veterans.
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