This lesson could be an individual or cooperative learning assignment, depending upon the needs of your individual classroom. The lesson incorporates an online exhibition from the National World War I Museum with primary and secondary sources regarding the African American experience in World War I.
I teach African American History at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, KS. The textbook we use does not go into substantial depth on the African American experience in World War I. I wanted to use multiple sources to demonstrate the contributions of persons of color in the war presumably fought to “make the world safe for democracy,” contributions that were made within a segregated military and home front.
- The student will examine primary and secondary sources related to the African American experience in World War I.
- The student will compare the information in the document folders and assess how the documents demonstrate support for or contradiction of President Wilson’s stated goal to “make the world safe for democracy.”
- The student will evaluate the contributions of African Americans in the military and on the home front during World War I.
- The student will compare the national World War I experience with the memories of African American residents of Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas, using the transcripts of oral history interviews.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
- Chapter 16, Section 3 in Darlene Clark Hine, et al., African American History, Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006.
- Excerpts from the PBS series The Great War – Episode 2 “A Nation Comes of Age” (series originally aired in 2017) – video guide appended to this lesson
- The National World War I Museum and Memorial online exhibition entitled “Make Way for Democracy! (April 1917-1919)” – online exhibition accessible at https://www.theworldwar.org/explore/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/make-way-democracy
• excerpt from W.E.B. DuBois, “Close Ranks” editorial in The Crisis, 1918
The Denver Star, an African American newspaper, dated April 7, 1917
The Denver Star, an African American newspaper, dated May 25, 1918 and including a short article on Needham Roberts & Henry Johnson
“The Two Lives of Eugene Bullard,” article from the companion website to the PBS series entitled “The Great War”
“WWI Hero Henry Johnson Finally Receives Medal of Honor,” article from History.com, dated June 2, 2015
Image of “Colored Man is No Slacker” (1918)
Image of “The Dawn of Hope” (1918)