The US Military Was Not Integrated Until 1948
Among those referred to at the time as the “colored men” who left from Poughkeepsie in 1917 to serve were George Gould, Wilson C. Johnson, Edgar Schoonmaker and Samuel Williams. Like other African Americans in service, they were eager to show their patriotism, but also hoped they would call attention to the unfulfilled promise of equal treatment in the United States. They were fighting for their country, but they were also fighting for respect. The American military, segregated until 1948, often assigned these men to labor battalions rather than combat units.
Despite the heroic achievements of units such as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” racial tensions continued after the war. The gap between the “war to make the world safe for democracy” and the reality for African Americans at the time, helped spark the “New Negro Movement” of the 1920’s, which in some ways helped usher in the later Civil Rights movement.
Identification of Individuals in Photos
Because Cora Mallory Davis was able to identify one of the men in a photograph on the night of the exhibition opening, we were finally able to tie the marching men to a July 17, 1918 Poughkeepsie Eagle-News newspaper article mentioning two men she identified, George Gould and Clarence Anderson. This helps enormously in working on putting names to faces for the remaining individuals (see below).
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Help Us Identify These Men
Based on newspaper article at the timel these individuals are most likely: Lester S. Franklin, William C. Johnson, William J. Rice, Simon L. Peterson, Millard Felix Turner.
Individuals below are most likely: Charles H. Harden Fred Barringer (Newark NJ) John McMichael Charles Peterson Charles E Schoonmaker Irving Frye Sebie A Bostic Charles Cooper Emery Frankly Samual Williams Benjamin F Roberts Frank Avans (Philadelphia PA) Isaac Tuttle Roert J Grant George R Sessions Charles L Kfteill (Kent CT) David Callaway, Vassar College
Men from Dutchess Who Served in 369th
Research of Richard Sears Walling gratefully accepted and published here with permission