In her new book Duty Beyond the Battlefield: African American Soldiers Fight for Racial Uplift, Citizenship, and Manhood, 1870-1920
(Southern Illinois University Press, 2020), Le’Trice D. Donaldson
investigates how African American soldiers used their military service to challenge white notions of an African American second-class citizenry and forged a new identity as freedom fighters, demanding the rights of full citizenship and manhood. Donaldson identifies the often-overlooked era between the Civil War and the end of World War I as the beginning of black soldiers’ involvement in the long struggle for civil rights.
Donaldson interrogates the association between masculinity and citizenship and the ways in which performing manhood through military service influenced how these men struggled for racial uplift. Following the Buffalo soldier units and two regular army infantry units from the frontier and the Mexican border to Mexico, Cuba, and the Philippines, she investigates how these locations and the wars therein provide windows into how the soldiers’ struggles influenced black life and status within the United States.
Duty beyond the Battlefield
demonstrates that from the 1870s to 1920s military race men laid the foundation for the “New Negro” movement and the rise of Black Nationalism that influenced the future leaders of the twentieth century Civil Rights movement.
Dr. Le’Trice Donaldson is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Stout and the author of A Voyage through the African American Experience
. She is also the creator and co-editor of The Blerdy Report
a blog dedicated to all things Black and nerdy in film, television, and the comic universe. You can find her on Twitter @eboninerd and on Instagram @letrice_blackladynerd
Dr. Isabel Machado is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Memphis. Her forthcoming book uses Carnival as a vehicle to understand social and cultural changes in Mobile, Alabama (USA) in the second half of the 20th century. Her new research project is an investigation of different generations of artists and performers who challenge gender normativity in Monterrey, Nuevo León (Mexico). She also works as an Assistant Producer for the Sexing History podcast.