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M3 Discussion 7: World War 1 And The Philadelphia Race Riot

 

Overview

The purpose of this discussion is to evaluate the African American experience during the World War I era.

Instructions

For this discussion,  review your readings for Unit 7 and read the following scenario carefully. Feel free to do research outside the course if you’d like other points of view.

Scenario:  John Smith was an African American veteran of World War I. He was a member of the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters.  After receiving recognition in France for bravery in battle and fighting to preserve democracy in Europe, Smith returned to his home in Philadelphia, PA. On the morning of May 10, 1919, Smith attended a local NAACP meeting, hoping to continue his fight for democracy in the United States.  One attendee stated that black veterans like Smith were new men and world men, awakened by their experience abroad and whose power to invoke change was limitless. He emerged from the meeting with a sense of pride and a new sense of purpose. As he rounded the corner onto Pine Street, Smith found himself in the middle of an anti-black race riot.  White mobs attempted to tear his uniform from his body, accusing him of Bolsevism for being a member of the NAACP, and demanding that he and other blacks in the neighborhood immediately leave the city.  He overheard a black neighbor yell, “If you are attacked defend yourself like American citizens. When they tread upon your rights fight them to the bitter end.”  

Prepare a discussion where you take the role of ONE of the following individuals and explain who that person was and how they would have responded to the riot.  Why did the riot happen? How should the blacks being attacked respond, according to your individual’s point of view?

Choose ONE:

  • John Smith, the African American World War I veteran
  • The white anti-black, anti-socialist, member of the mob
  • A member of the NAACP
  • The black neighbor under attack
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