Park University Black History Month Lecture to Focus on African-American Soldiers in World War I

Monday, February 2, 2015

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Dr. Jennifer KeeneThe 14th annual Park University Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series event will feature a discussion on “True Sons of Freedom: African-American Soldiers and World War I” on Monday, Feb. 23. The lecture will be held in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium at The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., starting at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, though pre-registration is requested.

Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., will present the lecture. Keene’s talk will detail African-American soldiers’ experiences as civil rights activists, symbols of black manhood and veterans during the Great War as they 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 soldiers as the vanguard of civil rights activism. Military service politicized black soldiers who initiated collective action for civil rights while in uniform and, as veterans, continued this fight through campaigns to secure veterans benefits.

Keene, a specialist in the American experience during World War I, 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, and she is an Organization of American Historians distinguished lecturer. Her research interests include the American soldier experience, African-American soldiers, veteran political activism, war culture and propaganda.

Park University’s Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series is named for Spencer Cave, who was born a slave at the start of the Civil War, 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 lecture or to reserve tickets, visit