Joining countless other communities across America, the Sampson County community will pause Monday evening, Feb. 26 to reflect on the legacy of black Americans’ participation in America’s wars. As part of February’s Black History Month celebration, the Sampson County NAACP and the Sampson County Chapter of the North Carolina A&T State University Alumni Association will host a historic gathering to honor those brave men and women who served this country in the armed forces, defending the American ideals of freedom and democracy.
In fact, black Americans have served their country in every American war, from the Revolutionary War to that of the present “War against Terrorism.”
This historic assembly will coincide with the national theme of Black History Month 2018, “African Americans in Times of War,” which was chosen to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918. Hoping that their willingness to volunteer for military service would lead to better treatment, black Americans have answered the call to arms throughout the nation’s history, without reservation.
Interestingly, World War I served as a poignant reminder that historically, it has been an uphill struggle for black Americans to prove their patriotism and devotion to the defense of the nation. Many black Americans saw America’s entry into World War I, on the side of democracy, as an opportunity that might help elevate the place and status of black Americans in their own country. Unfortunately, World War I veterans returned home to the same segregation they had witnessed before they were drafted to serve in the war to “make the world safe for democracy.” However, that opportunity for equal treatment came at a slow pace, for it would take another thirty years before the integration of the military with Truman’s Executive Order 9981 in July 1948.
In the seventy years since 1948, black American veterans have continued their fight to win “a more even chance in American life,” as they struggled for full equality of the American promise set aside for all under our Constitution. To be sure, over the last 100 years, spurred on by the actions of black veterans, who have shown great devotion to the defense of the nation, America has made great strides in both civil and human rights. Indeed, America owes a great debt to “African Americans in Times of War.”
So, it is my fervent hope that you will make time in your busy schedule to join us on Monday, Feb. 26 at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., Clinton, as we remember “African Americans in Times of War,” beginning at 6 p.m.
This celebration will mark the 92nd year of the inception of Black History Month, which was organized by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of black history, who devoted his life and work to changing the way the nation viewed black Americans and how black Americans viewed themselves.
Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.