Park University’s Black History Month Lecture Series Event to Explore African-American Explorers and World War I

Monday, February 3, 2014

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Dr. Chad WilliamsFeb. 3, 2014 — Chad Williams, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker in Park University’s 13th annual Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series program on Monday, Feb. 24. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., starting at 7 p.m.

Williams, department chair and associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., will present his lecture on “Torchbearers of Democracy: African-American Soldiers and World War I.” The lecture will examine the historical meaning of African-American military participation in World War I and how black soldiers and veterans, at home and abroad, fought to make democracy not just an ideal, but a lived reality.

“World War I represented a defining moment in the struggle of African-Americans for freedom and democracy,” Williams said. “The 380,000 black soldiers who served in the United States Army during the war literally and figuratively stood on the frontlines of this battle.”

Williams’ teaching and research focus on World War I, African-Americans in the military and African-American intellectual history. His first book, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era, won the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, the 2011 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and it was designated as an outstanding academic title by Choice magazine. He is currently completing a study on William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois and World War I.

Williams earned his doctorate and Master of Arts degree from Princeton University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series is named for Spencer Cave, who was born a slave at the start of the Civil War, later moved to Parkville in 1875 (the year Park University was founded) and worked for the University for more than 70 years before his death in 1947. This year’s lecture is sponsored by Park’s Program of History, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, the Organization of American Historians and the Black Archives of Mid-America.

For more information about the event, contact Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., associate professor of history, at or (816) 584-6364.