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Blacks in World War I

Almost 400,000 blacks fought in World War I (1914-1918), serving in the military’s segregated units. An August 1918, "Sidney Daily News" article and photo showing five such men was featured again in the newspaper’s Bicentennial edition of 1976. The 1918 article states, "Virtually all the colored people of the county had turned out to wish the boys God speed in their answer to their countries(sic) call. As the men came out of the Court House the colored people formed lines along both sides of the walk honoring the boys as they passed through. The colored people then formed in sets of fours and preceded by the Sidney band, acted as an escort to the men on their march to the B. & O. station.

Hundreds of thousands of blacks moved to the North to work in the war effort, with many of them unskilled, poorly educated and unprepared for life in a society that seemed little different from the South. Fortunately, for some of them, the National Urban League existed in New York City after being founded in 1910 to help blacks in their transition to city dwellers. The next 20 years would see the migration to the North of over 1 million blacks, forcing many into city ghettos where they became impoverished, beset with crime, and subject to official segregation policies that fostered a status of inequality.

 

 

 

'Black History' segment written in June, 1998 by David Lodge

 

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The Rev. T. D. Haithcock, on behalf of the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church Sunday School presented each of the men with a New Testament...The Rev. Haithcock said in part, that the assemblage was here as a token of high respect to the boys engaged in one of the greatest crisis(sic) of our country. An immense crowd was at the station and there was many a tear from the White and the Black as they stood together shook hands and wished the boys the best that could be in store for anyone for it was as fine a set of young boys as could be found. The occasion was one which will long be remembered by the hundreds present."

 

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