War and African American Citizenship, 1865–1965: The Role of Military Service

Christopher Parker

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

War and African American Citizenship, 1865–1965: The Role of Military Service


This article first examines the various ways in which scholars explain the relationship between war and racial reform. Upon identifying gaps in the literature on the subject, it then outlines a framework through which at least some of the gaps may be filled. It then examines the effect of the Civil War on African American citizenship in light of the proposed framework. This is followed by the examination of the Spanish-American war and World War I and World War II, followed by an analysis of the World War II and the Korean War. Conclusions of the article illustrate how African American military service influenced change in at least two phases. A top-down mechanism prevailed in the aftermath of the Civil War and one in which many black veterans were integral to the success of local movements, pushing change from the bottom up in the postwar South during the civil rights movement.

Keywords: military service; African American citizenship; racial reform; Spanish-American war; Civil War; civil rights movement

Article.  20112 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Economy

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