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African-Americans and the Great War

Last updated on February 21, 2018


By Ashley Perham

Grady Eades, chair of Volunteer State Community College’s history department, will present a lecture titled “Closing Ranks: African Americans and the Great War” Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 1. p.m. in Thigpen Library’s Rochelle Center.

The lecture is part of the yearly lecture series put on by the college’s history, economics, geography, and political science department, according to Eades.

“This year being the centennial of the First World War, it only made sense to have our presentations connect to this anniversary,” wrote Eades.

The lecture also ties in to Vol State’s Black History Month events.

The lecture will focus on African-Americans from all over the country, but will also have middle Tennessee anecdotes, wrote Eades.

“The most important point from the presentation is the same point that Black History month tries to convey in general: African Americans have made important contributions to the history and survival of this country,” wrote Eades. “Sadly, those contributions have often been downplayed or ignored.”

Eades has worked on this lecture for about a month, he wrote. His favorite part of lectures like this one are getting to go beyond the basics of the story to “dig into the specifics.”

For students who are interested in learning more about African-Americans in The Great War, specifically from middle Tennessee, Eades recommended “The African-American History of Nashville, TN, 1780-1930” by Bobby Lovett.

“Just about anything on the Harlem Hellfighters is going to be a good read!” Eades wrote.

Lovett’s book is available at Thigpen Library, according to the library’s website.

Eades said that he doesn’t have a favorite event Vol State puts on for Black History Month.

“All of them have value!” he wrote.

He explained why it is important for students to be aware of Black History Month.

“As long as it is necessary to explain why people should be aware of Black History Month, it is important to have a Black History month,” wrote Eades.

Tori Long, a Vol State freshman at the Highland Crest campus in Springfield, wrote that she would be interested in having an event like this lecture at her campus if it pertained to World War I.

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