In May of 1919, W. E. B. Du Bois published an essay called, “Returning Soldiers.”
We return from the slavery of uniform which the world’s madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land….
We return from fighting.
We return fighting.
He wrote it because of the racially motivated riots that swept the country in the summer of 1919, which became known as The Red Summer. These were cases of whites attacking blacks, while claiming to be protecting themselves. They would fabricate stories of white women being attacked, or attack thirteen year old boys.
I know about this and the Atlanta Race Riot and Brownsville Affair of 1906, and the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, and The Colfax massacre and the Hamburg Massacre of 1876 and scores of other cases, because I was doing research for a book. Not because it was taught in schools.
And this history of our country should be taught, because we’re repeating it right now in Ferguson. Anyone who says that this situation is unprecedented isn’t paying attention.