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African Americans in Times of War

103rd Annual ASALH Meeting and Conference
October 3-7, 2018: Indianapolis, Indiana


The 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918 and explores the complex meanings and implications of this global struggle. The First World War was termed initially by many as “The Great War,” “the war to end all wars,” and the war “to make the world safe for democracy,” those very concepts provide a broad, useful framework for focusing on African Americans during multiple wars—from the Revolutionary War Era to that of the present War against Terrorism. Times of War must inevitably provide the framework for many stories related to African American soldiers, veterans, and civilians. This is a theme filled with paradoxes—of valor and defeat, of civil rights opportunities and setbacks, of struggles abroad and at home, of artistic creativity and repression, and of catastrophic loss of life and the righteous hope for peace.


The theme suggests that contemporary conditions are cause for critical pause in considerations and studies. Therefore proposals can explore any of these issues: opportunities for advancement and repression during wartime, the roles of civil rights and Black liberation organizations in the struggle abroad and at home; African American businesses, women, religious institutions, the Black press; the struggle to integrate the military; experiences in the military during segregation/apartheid and integration; health development; migration and urban development; educational opportunities; veterans experiences once they returned home; how Black soldiers and/veterans are documented and memorialized within public and private spaces; the creation of African American Veteran of Foreign War posts, cultures and aesthetics of dissent; global/international discourse; impact and influence of the Pan-African Congress, the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party; and the topographies and spaces of Black soldiers’ rebellion. These diverse stories reveal war’s impact not only on men and women in uniform but on the larger African American community.


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