Thursday, April 16, 2015

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2015, April 16: Civil rights and the Second World War (2)

John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss, Jr. in From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (8th edition; 2003) devote a chapter to African-Americans and the Second World War. They note that black Americans had taken a concerned interest in developments in Italy and Germany well before the war began.

African Americans watched events in other parts of the world with growing concern. When Italy invaded Ethiopia, they protested with all the means at their command. Almost overnight even the most provincial among black Americans became international-minded. Ethiopia was a black nation, and its destruction would symbolize the final victory of whites over blacks. In manyvcommunities funds were raised for the defense of the African kingdom, while in larger cities elaborate organizations were set up. In New York the International Council of Friends of Ethiopia was organized, with Willis N. Huggins as executive secretary. In 1935 Ethiopia Huggins pleaded for Ethiopia before the League of Nations. Other organizations, such as the United Aid to Ethiopia (later the Ethiopian World Federation), raised funds for the beleaguered African country. The Pittsburgh Courier sent its historian-news analyst, J. A. Rogers, to cover the war. Upon his return he issued a booklet, "The Real Facts about Ethiopia," and lectured to many black and white groups. (p. 476)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote about Joel Augustus Rogers in J. A. Rogers’ 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro The Root 10/15/2012. The article's title is taken from another of Rogers' books. Gates writes:

Rogers was soon launched on a path that would make him one of the leading black journalists of his generation. Rogers wrote regularly for the Pittsburgh Courier, the New York Amsterdam News, and the Chicago Defender, and he contributed several important essays to A. Philip Randolph's radical-socialist Messenger Magazine during the Harlem Renaissance. (He also wrote the only essay on that emerging art form called "jazz" in Alain Locke's seminal 1925 anthology The New Negro.) But the triumph of his career as a journalist, without a doubt, was his coverage of events in Ethiopia. The Courier sent Rogers -- the only African-American journalist on the ground -- there to cover the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1935-1936), including an interview with Emperor Haile Selassie, whose coronation Rogers had also attended in 1930.
Haile Selassie, 1942:

Franklin and Moss expand on this prewar background:

African Americans were among the earliest and most energetic Americans to condemn the fascism that was rising in Europe. They quickly learned to hate Nazism and its Aryan doctrines. Some had read Hitler's Mein Kampf and had resented its unfavorable comments about blacks. It had been claimed, moreover, that in 1936 Hitler had refused to treat the African-American Olympic stars Jess Owens and Ralph Metcalfe with civility in Berlin. When Max Schmeling knocked out the black idol, Joe Louis, in 1936, African Americans had little to say for Hitlerism. Not until Louis gained complete revenge in 1938 could the average black speak of Nazis without a feeling of personal antagonism. By that time, however, public opinion in America was generally censuring Hitler's tactics in overthrowing Austria and dismembering Czechoslovakia, and African Americans joined in the loud condemnation. (p. 476)
Louis and Schmeling, 1936:

No comments: