“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Holy Bible (KJV) Proverbs 31:29
I heard that the local public library, was hosting a talk on took part in the WWI, often disguising themselves as ambulance drivers or orderlies, and I immediately grumbled, “I bet no black women will be mentioned”. I thought I’d attend and on the off-chance some older Black ladies were there, have some ammunition to make them feel less marginalized, what a wonderful gesture on my part of protecting the honor of Black women in this small bucolic hamlet. I did some quick research the night before, finding a dearth of information I had previously been unaware of, information and accomplishment of The Black Woman from slave times to the present. I was about to attach this introduction, then Eureka !, I realized that for almost 70 years when discussions started about Black People’s contribution to the WWI conflict, I automatically and immediately focused in on our brave black men who volunteered and heroically served under the French. I have never once mentioned The Black Woman’s contribution to patriotically supporting WWI America Servicemen, one because I was plain ignorant of their many contributions before and during WWI years, and secondly historical focus from the 1900’s until now; has been highlighted and supporting the accomplishments of Black Men. The White American historical system continues to promote racially biased laws which mercilessly attack our males of all ages; even upholding the right to shoot or use excessive force statutes that allow white citizens and police departments (some of the victims Black Law Enforcement Officers) for Black males to be justifiably killed or injured.
Those are two noble and idealistic excuses but the truth is I personally never even considered, what Black women may have done during the WWI war years, and I realized in retrospect that I owe American Black Women a deep and abiding Apology!. I also believe that America owes Black women a sincere apology for the way they’ve been treated in The Americas for over 600 years, in spite of their mistreatment Black Women continue to raise up successfully in spite of adversity and continued setbacks.Black women are rarely acknowledged for their many contributions to American society and culture, so this assignment has been a worthwhile learning experience, and gave me appreciation for women such as my mother who were unsung heroines of their generation. Every time I use my intelligence in this egotistical manner, it just goes to show others how ignorant and insecure I really am, then I eventually have that spiritual experience where the voice of God internally asks me, “Did We learn anything today?”.
“In a period of overt racism, African-American women who tried to participate in these efforts met almost immovable obstacles. After a long struggle, a few black nurses were admitted into the nurse corps, but not until after the war. The military accepted no other black women. Although 200,000 black soldiers served overseas, no more than half a dozen black women managed to get there, for with the sole exception of the YMCA all the volunteer organizations excluded them from service abroad. Black women worked nobly in this country in the workplace and as volunteers, but almost always in their own groups, set apart from whites.”
Social Education 58(2), 1994, pp. 83-85
National Council for the Social Studies
A References List of Black Women Who Contributed to The WWI War Effort :
1. WWI Black Red Cross at St. Paul Hospital Photograph
2. WWI Black Nurses Red Cross Motor Services Photograph
3. Black Machine Operator Redspring Webring Photograph
4. Nurses that worked during WWI ( Mahoney ) Photograph
5. Black women in WWI helped at The Colored YMCA/YWCA 40’s photo
6. Book ”Organizing Black America” about Helping during WWI
7. Book “Private Politics…Black Women’s Activism In World War I
8. Uncle Sam allocated $4 million Colored Women’s YWCA 1914 -1918
9. 1914 Colored YMCA Women “Answer the Call!” supporting GI’s
10. Awards to Nashville’s African – American Women’s Committee
11. WWI Black Women Railroad: cleaning cars, laborers, wiping engines
12. The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (1909)
The First World War And Colonial Blacks/Asians
The outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, provided a solution to this problem for many Blacks already resident in Britain. Labour was needed for the war effort in factories, and seamen were required for the merchant service, to replace men who joined the navy. They were among the thousands who died facing the German U-boat attacks, bringing supplies to Britain.
Moreover, men were needed to fight in the army for “King and Country”. Thousands played their part. In the Caribbean and Africa, as elsewhere in the empire, there were public meetings to encourage people to get involved in the war effort.
Mary Seacole Jamaican Nurse during Crimea War: More famous than Florence Nightingale
WWI Black Britons: “Its a White Man’s War“
Black, Asian,Caribbean Men Who Fought For Britain:
Male UK Blacks and Indians in WWI