True Sons of Freedom [caption title]. African Americana, World War I.

True Sons of Freedom [caption title]

Chicago: Charles Gustrine, 1918. Chromolithographed poster, approximately 20 x 16 inches. Minor creasing, a few small chips to edges, one small chip to image area. Framed under tinted glass, not examined outside the frame. Very good. Item #3031

A notable uplift poster honoring the brave contributions of African-American soldiers who fought during World War I. The preponderance of the poster depicts a fierce battle between a group of African-American infantry soldiers and bearded German troops in spiked helmets; one German soldier lies dead at bottom left and another German soldier raises his hands in surrender. Abraham Lincoln looks down on the fight from above (presumably from Heaven). A short quote from Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and a facsimile of his signature appear just beneath his image. Lincoln’s appearance here effectively juxtaposes the struggle of the Civil War with new struggle for freedom for African-American veterans of the “war to end all wars.” A “news item” is quoted at bottom left, reading "Colored Men, The First Americans who Planted the Flag on the Firing Line."

Approximately 200,000 African American troops fought in the First World War, in segregated units, and were often assigned to the more dangerous jobs on the front. This poster is one of several commissioned by the Committee on Public Information, and is one of the most uncommon uplift posters celebrating, and perhaps recruiting African Americans to Europe. The Library of Virginia states that the poster "specifically references the success of the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black unit from New York and the first Allied soldiers to engage the Germans...The unit served a total of 191 days in combat, more than any other company. Corporal Henry Johnson and Private Needham Roberts were the first Americans to receive the Croix de Guerre, awarded by the French in recognition of heroism during wartime. They were 2 of 171 members of the 369th Infantry to receive the award. The musicians in this unit, including James Reese Europe and Noble Sissle, were credited with introducing European audiences to jazz music. After being excluded from the regular parade of troops leaving New York City when they left for Europe, soldiers of the 369th Infantry were given a hero's welcome when they returned home on February 2, 1919."

OCLC records just two copies, at the Library of Congress and Texas A&M.

Price: $1,750.00