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Barbeau's indignation shines through when he asks the same questions a reader must ask about the injustices Black soldiers were subjected to in America as they prepared to depart for Europe, the indignities they suffered while attempting to fight a war to save democracy once in Europe while denied it in their homeland, and the suffering they experienced in Europe and upon their return to the United States after the war. But Barbeau's indignation is muted, reasonable, logical, and unobtrusive considering the horrors he describes Black troops being subjected to and the slanders against the bravery they displayed in spite of poor equipment, if any;poor training, if any;poor, non-supportive, and/or racist commanders;inadequate support; the institutionalized racism of the military that constantly demeaned them by declaring their inferiority in order to affirm white superiority;and the constant effort to develop Black soldiers as a slave-labor force instead of one prepared for combat. The descriptions of the outrages committed against these soldiers as they prepared to return to America and then after they did arrive "home" speak volumes about the all-important need to support the concept of white supremacy and enforce that of black inferiority in spite of the well-researched and documented facts Barbeu presents as to the fallacy of each.
Barbeau clearly establishes that there was more than one war being waged in Europe regarding the service of Black troops. But his documentation of the service and efforts of those troops in spite of their treatment by their own military can only cause one to marvel at the heights to which racial and national pride urged these brave men forward. The history of Black troops in WWI is known at last thanks to Mr. Barbeau's important contribution to an accurate history of warfare and the people who fight it.
Barbeau,et al, suggest that the "New Negro" of the post-World War I period was a direct outcome of the increased pride and dignity Black soldiers found during their service in Europe and which the French military saluted and honored many times with military awards, even though the US military attempted to discourage that recognition in various ways, including the distribution of a secret communication that attempted to justify discrimination against Afro-Americans by the American military and promote it in the French military and general society.
Read this book. Add it to your library. You'll refer to it many times in the future.
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