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KU Common Book event to focus on experience of black soldiers in World War I

Thursday, November 05, 2015

LAWRENCE — A professor from Brandeis University is scheduled to deliver a lecture on Nov. 10 focusing on the experience of black soldiers during World War I.

“Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era” aligns with KU’s Common Book, Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” the story of an American ambulance driver serving on the Italian front in World War I and his romance with an English nurse.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at The Commons in Spooner Hall.

Chad Williams, associate professor and chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis, specializes in black military and political environments of the World War I era.

Williams' book, which bears the same title as his lecture, won the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award in 2011 for the best book on the struggle for civil rights in the United States from the nation’s founding to the present. It also won the Society for Military History's Distinguished Book Award for U.S. Military History.

Williams’ talk will focus on the entire experience of black soldiers in the war, on and off the battlefield.

“It is important to acknowledge the history of African-Americans in World War I as we commemorate the history of the war,” Williams said. “The experiences of black soldiers and veterans shaped war and postwar struggles for democracy within the United States and beyond."

The event is co-sponsored by the Office of First Year Experience, the KU Department of African and African-American Studies and the Langston Hughes Center at KU in collaboration with the World War I Commemoration planning committee.