Calls for Racial Justice Silenced 1917

African American protests against lynching, mob violence, and racial discrimination in the military caused the Government deep concern about “negro subversion” during World War I. Government agencies combined forces to repress and censor any publications that questioned whether African Americans should be compelled to fight for Democracy abroad when they suffered gross injustice at home.

African American soldiers returned from battle overseas to face a bloody wave of race riots. W.E.B. Du Bois, who cooperated with Government censorship efforts during the war, proclaimed in its aftermath, “By the God of Heaven, we are jackasses and cowards” if we do not “battle against the forces of hell in our own land.”