ASU Pays Tribute to Black WWI Soldiers for WWI 100th Anniversary

Gathered at Oakwood Cemetery, a small group from Alabama State University came to pay their respects to soldiers who died one hundred years ago.
More than 350,000 African Americans served in segregated units during World War I.
They were fighting for rights they didn’t even have back home at the time.

“It’s really important because President Woodrow Wilson said this war was fought to make the world safe for democracy. And the irony of that statement was that democracy was not safe for these soldiers or black people in the United States at that time. We had lynchings, race riots occurring, we had Jim Crow, which was pretty wide spread and entrenched,” said Derryn Moten, Chairman of History and Political Science at ASU.

John W. Beverly Jr, is one of those soldiers buried at Oakwood Cemetery. His father was president of Alabama State University.
About 100 WWI soldiers are buried at Oakwood Cemetery.
In all, about 86,000 Alabamians, both black and white, fought in WWI and more than 2,500 died.

As time moves on, Father Manuel Williams of Resurrection Catholic Church says it is important to remember the sacrifices and preserve the history of those who have gone before us.

“We remember the lives and the choices and the sacrifices of these people that lived almost a century ago. That’s really important for us to slow down and remember the quality of their lives, so I think that is a good thing,” said Williams.

ASU also commemorated the soldiers with the unveiling of a historical marker on campus.


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