Cover: Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I, from Harvard University PressCover: Freedom Struggles in PAPERBACK

Freedom Struggles

African Americans and World War I

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Product Details


$28.00 • £22.95 • €25.00

ISBN 9780674062054

Publication Date: 09/30/2011


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

16 halftones


In offering a unique vision of African American aspirations, frustrations, and political sensibilities, Lentz-Smith convincingly contends that the Great War era represented a ‘transformative moment’ in the black freedom struggle… [Freedom Struggles] provides a thoughtful, accessible portrayal of a civil rights struggle we believe we might already understand but one that we should come to know much, much better.—Lauren Sklaroff, Journal of American History

Lentz-Smith’s terrific new book is a balanced and beautifully written account of the black soldier’s experience in World War I. It raises important questions about the ways that law and status in the United States is shaped by developments abroad.—Joel E. Black, Law and History Review

With acute analysis, Duke historian Adriane Lentz-Smith’s Freedom Struggles traces the experiences of the 200,000 African-American soldiers who shipped out to France in 1917 and 1918 with the American Expeditionary Forces. She argues that the Great War ‘supplied a new theater for Americans to wage old battles over nation and state, color and access, power and rights.’—John David Smith, The News & Observer

Lentz-Smith has crafted a superlative internationalized local history that transcends borders yet is complicated by definitions of national and parochial identities. In her skillful hands, the freedom struggle comes alive as a range of African American men and women fight for full rights even while the forces of Jim Crow and colonialism appear to become more entrenched. This book adds a significant chapter in our understanding of the long struggle for freedom both in the United States and globally.—Carol Anderson, author of Eyes Off the Prize

Brimming with energy and insight, this rich and powerful book opens new vistas on the early civil rights movement, and adds knowledge and texture to the history of World War I and the African American experience.—Jane Dailey, author of Before Jim Crow

An important book about the impact of World War I on black Americans. A host of historical figures, many of whom will be new to readers, took the path to activism rather than submit passively to the realities of Jim Crow America. Their stories are inspiring, and this book will establish Lentz-Smith in the front rank of young scholars of the African American experience.—John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

During World War I, the United States was governed by a president who believed white men were the ‘real citizens’ of the nation. In this powerful, elegant book Lentz-Smith shows how African American thinkers, activists, teachers, and soldiers seized that war, at home and abroad, as an opportunity to prove otherwise. Freedom Struggles brings this pivotal moment in U.S. history to life, and announces the arrival of an important new historian.—Stephen Kantrowitz, author of Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy

Awards & Accolades

  • Honor Book, 2010 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards, Nonfiction Category
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