World War I anniversary expands cultural scope

Olivia Barfield

Jeffrey Anderson presented “The War that Redefined Black America,” Tuesday as part of the School of Humanities’ commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the start of World War I. 

World War I began in August 1914. The U.S. joined the war in April 1917.

Anderson, associate history professor, presented the first of eight presentations scheduled for the event. The presentations mean to highlight the significance of World War I. 

The last presentation will take place Nov. 5, six days before the Veteran’s Day program that marks the end of the war.

Students who attended the presentation appreciated the efforts made to remember World War I. 

Jada Hitchens, a freshman pre-nursing and radiologic technology major, said, “I believe that it’s important to do lectures so we can know our background.” 

Students also thought that analyzing the effects of World War I on uncommon topics like black America helps to understand the extent of its influence. Students found that World War I affected things far beyond what they have been taught in textbooks. 

Sydney Miller, a freshman secondary history education major, pointed out that World War I often gets overlooked. 

“I want to be a history teacher, but I don’t know that much about World War I. World War II kind of oversteps it,” Miller said.

Miller thought that Anderson’s presentation was interesting and unique. 

“I’ve never been taught anything about black culture with World War I,” Miller said. 

Anderson’s presentation focused on the cultural effects of World War I on the black community. 

Anderson said that the war indirectly caused a mass movement of black Americans to the north from the south, which eventually allowed for the embracement of black culture during the Harlem Renaissance. 

“The effects of war go beyond the fighting,” Anderson said. 

He also argued that World War I had a bigger impact culturally than World War II and is something many Americans do not understand.

“We tend to forget about it, but it is one of the things that really shaped the world. It has an impact that we need to go back and remember,” Anderson said.

On Sept. 25, Dr. Claudia Grinnell, associate professor of English, will give the next presentation entitled “Kriegsgedichte-German Poetry of World War I.”