These Truly Are the Brave: An Anthology of African American Writings on War and Citizenship



These Truly Are the Brave: An Anthology of African American Writings on War and Citizenship

This edition

"These Truly Are the Brave: An Anthology of African American Writings on War and Citizenship" . Ed. A. Yemisi Jimoh and Françoise N. Hamlin. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2015. xxxviii+543 pp.

Online access

Table of contents

List of Figures
A Note to Readers
Editorial Notes
Historical Timeline
Introduction: These Truly Are the Brave

Part 1. Freedom, Democracy, and Equality? From Colonies to a Nation Divided
● Alexander T. Augusta / From "Colored men have their rights that white men are bound to respect" (1863)
● James Madison Bell / From "A Poem Entitled, The Day and the War" (1864)
● Benjamin Griffith Brawley / My Hero (To Robert Gould Shaw) (1915)
● William Wells Brown / From "Clotelle; or the Colored Heroine" (1867)
● Olivia Ward Bush-Banks / Crispus Attucks (1899)
● Samuel Cabble / "I look forward to a brighter day" (1863)
● Frederick Douglass / "What country have I?" (1847)
● Frederick Douglass / The War with Mexico (1848)
● Frederick Douglass / Peace! Peace! Peace! (1848)
● Frederick Douglass / Fellow Citizens: On Slavery and the Fourth of July (1852)
● Frederick Douglass / From "How to End the War" (1861)
● Lewis Henry Douglass / "If I die tonight I will not die a coward" (1863)
● Paul Laurence Dunbar / Black Samson of Brandywine (1903)
● Paul Laurence Dunbar / The Colored Soldiers (1895)
● Paul Laurence Dunbar / Robert Gould Shaw (1900)
● Paul Laurence Dunbar / Lincoln (1903)
● Olaudah Equiana [Gustavus Vassa] / Life at Sea during the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) (1789)
● James Forten / From "Letters from a man of Colour on a Late Bill before the Senate of Pennsylvania" (1813)
● Charlotte Forten Grimké / "True manhood has no limitations of color" (1864)
● Sarah Louisa Forten Purvis / My Country (1834)
● Vievee Francis / Frederick Douglass Speaks before the Anti-Mexican War Abolitionists (2006)
● Vievee Francis / South of Houston (2006)
● Freedom Petition to the Massachusetts Council and House of Representatives / Black Abolitionists Declare Rights to Revolutionary Freedom (1777)
● Henry Highland Garnet / From "An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America" (1843)
● Shirley Graham Du Bois / It's Morning (1940)
● Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / An Appeal to My Countrywomen (1871)
● George Moses Horton / Jefferson in a Tight Place (1865)
● Fenton Johnson / De Ol' Sojer (1916)
● Boston King / From "Freedom and fear fighting for the Loyalists" (1798)
● Dudley Randall / Memorial Wreath (1962)
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Robert G. Shaw (1910)
● George Clinton Rowe / The Reason Why (1887)
● Sarah E. Shuften / Ethiopia's Dead (1865)
● Joshua McCarter Simpson / Song of the "Aliened American" (1852)
● Robert Smalls / Commandeering Freedom: Robert Smalls Pilots the Confederate Ship "Planter" (1864)
● George E. Stephens / "How dare I be offered half the pay of any man, be he white or red?" (1864)
● Susie Baker King Taylor / A Nurse for the 33rd USCT (1902)
● Lucy Terry Prince / Bars Fight (1855)
● Natasha Trethewey / Elegy for the Native Guards (2006)
● James Monroe Trotter / The Fifty-Fourth at Wagner (1883)
● Sojourner Truth / The Valiant Soldiers (1878)
● David Walker / From "Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles: Together with a Preamble to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America (1829)
● Phillis Wheatley / Letter Accompanying a Poem to General George Washington (1776)
● Phillis Wheatley /His Excellency Gen. Washington (1776)
● Phillis Wheatley / On the Death of General Wooster (1980)
● Phillis Wheatley / Liberty and Peace, a Poem (1784)
● James Monroe Whitfield / America (1853)
● Albert Allson Whitman / From "Hymn to the Nation" (1877)
● Albert Allson Whitman / From "The End of the Whole Matter" (1877)
● Albert Allson Whitman / From "Twasinta's Seminoles; or, Rape of Florida" (1884)
● John A. Williams / 1812 (1972)

Part 2. The United States Enters the Global Stage: Empire, Worldwide War, and Democracy
● A.M.E. Church: Voice of Missions / The Negro Should Not Enter the Army (1899)
● A Black Soldier in the Philippine Islands / "We don't want these islands" (1900)
● Samuel Alfred Beadle / Lines (1899)
● Mary Burrill / Aftermath: A One-Act Play of Negro Life (1919)
● Olivia Ward Bush-Banks / A Hero of San Juan (1899)
● Charles Waddell Chesnutt / Acquit Yourselves like Men: An Address to Colored Soldiers at Grays Armory, Cleveland, Ohio (1917)
● Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr. / Moloch (1921)
● W. A. Domingo / From "If We Must Die" (1919)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / My Country 'Tis of Thee (1907)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / Close Ranks (1918)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / A Philosophy in Time of War (1918)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / Our Special Grievances (1918)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / Returning Soldiers (1919)
● Paul Laurence Dunbar / The Conquerors: The Black Troops in Cuba (1898)
● Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar-Nelson / Mine Eyes Have Seen (1918)
● Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar-Nelson / I Sit and Sew (1920)
● F. Grant Gilmore / A Battle in the Philippines (1915)
● Presley Holliday / "The colored soldier . . . properly belongs among the bravest and most trustworthy in the land" (1899)
● Roscoe Conkling Jamison / The Negro Soldiers (1917)
● Fenton Johnson / The New Day (1919)
● James Weldon Johnson / To America (1917)
● John E. Matheus / 'Cruiter (1927)
● Claude McKay / If We Must Die (1919)
● Niagara Movement / Address to the Country (1906)
● Chandler Owen / From "The Failure of Negro Leadership" (1918)
● Anne Bethel Spencer / The Wife-Woman (1922)
● Melvin Beaunorus Tolson Sr. / A Legend of Versailles (1944)
● Lucian Bottow Watkins / The Negro Soldiers of America: What We Are Fighting For (1918)

Part 3. The Double-V Campaign Challenges Jim Crow: World War II
● Aeron D. Bells / "Local prejudice, or an official order from Washington" (1982)
● Gwendolyn Brooks / Negro Hero (1945)
● Gwendolyn Brooks / the white troops had their orders but the Negroes looked like men (1945)
● Ruby Berkley Goodwin / Guilty (1948)
● Shirley Graham Du Bois / Tar (1945)
● Langston Hughes / Beaumont to Detroit: 1943 (1943)
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Black Recruit (1948)
● Bob Kaufman / War Memoir: Jazz, Don't Listen to It at Your Own Risk (1981)
● Cora Ball Moten / Negro Mother to Her Soldier Son (1943)
● Ann Lane Petry / In Darkness and Confusion (1947)
● Soldiers at Ft. Logan, Colorado / "We'd rather die on our knees as a man, than to live in this world as a slave" (1943)
● Gladys O. Thomas-Anderson / "An honor to be in the Army and be black, too. We were the beginning." (2004)
● John Edgar Wideman / Valaida (1989)
● Gwendolyn Williams / Heart against the Wind (1944)

Part 4. Battles at Home and Abroad from Montgomery to Afghanistan
● Ella Baker / From "The Black Woman in the Civil Rights Struggle" (1969)
● James Baldwin / My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation (1962)
● Toni Cade Bambara / The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977)
● Amiri Baraka / From "Somebody Blew Up America" (2001)
● Julius W. Becton Jr. / "We were pioneers" (2004)
● Julian Bond / I Too, Hear America Singing (1960)
● Lucille Clifton / From "september song: a poem in 7 days" (2002)
● Junius Edwards / Liars Don't Qualify (1961)
● Michael S. Harper / American History (1970)
● Robert E. Holcomb / "I was sworn into the Army in manacles" (1984)
● Stephen Hopkins / "Uncle Sam didn't do much for me. I am proud of my service."
● John Oliver Killens / God Bless America (1952)
● Martin Luther King Jr. / Strange Liberators: A Speech at Riverside Church, 4 April 1967 (1967)
● Yusef Komunyakaa / Re-Creating the Scene (1988)
● Yusef Komunyaka / The One-Legged Stool (1988)
● Allia Abdullah Matta / From "Mymerica" (2006)
● Eric Mitchell / "Pray 4 a quick ending to this" (2004)
● Janet Pennick / "Everything about war was horrible" (2004)
● Marie Rodgers / "I asked to go to Vietnam" (2004)
● Sonia Sanchez / From "Reflections after the June 12th March for Disarmament (1984)
● John A. Williams / 'Nam (1972)

Appendix: List of Titles by Themes and Wars
Author Index
Title Index

About the anthology

● The selections are organized into four broad chronological sections, "based on the period of their subject matter" (rather than on the date of composition of the work) (Fontenot 2016: 408): part 1, from the colonial/revolutionary era to the civil war; part 2, post-Civil War to early 20th century; part 3, Jim Crow era and World War II; part 4, post-Second World War. Within each section, the items are organized alphabetically by the authors' last names. Each of these four sections has a substantial introduction "that discusses American race relations, politics, landmark legal decisions, and foreign affairs to provide historical context for the selected writings" (Fontenot 2016: 408) and concludes with a bibliography of "Selected Additional Literature on Citizenship and War" (Fontenot 2016: 409).
● Each individual item is preceded by a brief headnote and followed by an indication of the source of item and a brief note of related writings (if any) by the author.

Publisher's description

“Powerfully connects the history of war and peace with the long black freedom struggle in the United States, illuminating as never before the relationship between war and citizenship in the African American experience.”—Timothy Patrick McCarthy, coeditor of "The Radical Reader"

“A rich, provocative compilation that will stimulate important discussions on African Americans’ fraught relationship with the military.”—Venetria Patton, editor of "Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature"

Anthology editor(s)' discourse

● "the writers here provide valuable perspectives that displace Euro-American normative scripts, contribute to the disruption of black-white binaries, and clear space for a post-supremacist United States. In such a nation, the plurality of narratives could proliferate and tell the varied interconnecting and often simultaneously diverging stories of its citizens" (19).

Reviews and notices of anthology

● Fontenot, Kara Parks. [Review]. "CLA Journal" 59.4 (2016): 408-10. JSTOR: the anthology covers the period from the American Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the civil rights struggles within the nation. The editors highlight "some of the major political projects of the literature included in the anthology: reclaiming images of black people from false representations, recovering lost history, claiming citizenship rights for black people and exposing American hypocrisy with regard to the nation's democratic ideals" (408). "The anthology includes poems, letters, plays, short stories, oral narratives, speeches, newspaper articles, petitions, memoirs, e-mails and excerpts from novels" (409). "Other collections of African American oral narratives and writings on // war and citizenship exist, such as Wallace Terry's 'Bloods' (1984), which focuses on Vietnam, and Yvonne Latty's 'We Were There' (2004), which spans World War II to the war in Iraq. None of these compilations, however, is as comprehensive or as ambitious in scope as 'These Truly Are The Brave.' Jimoh and Hamlin's anthology has broad interdisciplinary appeal. It will be useful to scholars working in history, literary studies, minority studies and cultural studies, yet it is also accessible for a general audience" (409-10).
● Wendt, Simon. [Review]. "ALH Online Review Series" Series XI (13 June 2017): 2 pp. "This anthology is the first of its kind, assembling an impressive array of African American voices on war and citizenship from the colonial period to the present, . . . . the 543-page collection provides profound insights into African American literature and thought on war, race, and the nation. Annotations, historical timelines, and bibliographies on pertinent primary and secondary readings help in navigating through the more than three centuries the volume covers" (1). The selections "provide glimpses into a particular strain of the US' black literary protest tradition, reveal much about African Americans' ambivalent feelings about military service, and shed light on their fraught relationship with US imperialism. The texts also lend themselves to analyses of the racialized gender dimensions of war and national belonging, since they address such topics as martial masculinity, related discourses of racial inferiority and cowardice, and the uses of femininity in nationalist ideologies. Most importantly, this volume highlights black citizens' agency in reacting to and shaping people's ideas about the meanings of war and patriotism throughout U.S. history" (1).
"Given the volume's impressive comprehensiveness, it might be considered unfair to criticize the editors for excluding a number of important texts and authors, but there are a few conspicuous omissions, particularly with regard to the twentieth century [when copyright and permissions issues complicate things (AY)]. . . . one looks in vain for memoirs from such important activists and soldiers as Malcolm X, Vernon Baker, and Colin Powell. Similarly surprising, the sections on World War II and the post-1945 era contain virtually no newspaper and magazine articles and editorials, although such publications as the // 'Pittsburgh Courier,' 'Ebony,' and 'Jet' covered every war that African Americans fought in during the second half of the twentieth century. Plus, they also provided important glimpses into the black community's interpretations of these military conflicts and their ramifications. Finally, although militant black nationalists such as members of the Nation of Islam or the Black Panther Party had much to say about black military service and citizenship in the 1950s and 1960s, their voices are missing from the collection. . . . A second set of problems revolves around the editors' analytical framework . . . The volume's five essays on conceptualizations and historical contexts tend to focus on two rather narrow subjects: military service and citizenship. Many of the selections, however, suggest that these are only subcategories of the nexus of war and nation. Utilizing these broader categories would enable readers to appreciate black thinkers' relation to such intellectual traditions as pacifism and conservatism while also allowing them to understand how African American writers, intellectuals, soldiers, and activists struggled with the ever-present tensions between civic and ethnic nationalism in the US. . . . In their essays and annotations, the editors only hint at what the anthology's texts reveal about these complexities. . . . These criticisms scarcely diminish the editors' admirable accomplishment. This anthology will become an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the role of warfare and military service in African American history, literature, and thought" (1-2).

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