Black Veterans Killed in Fight for Democracy in U.S.

We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. — W. E. B. Du Bois

Below is a collection of stories about African American veterans who fought in various wars and upon their return to the U.S., were murdered in the fight for democracy and human rights.

As the Equal Justice Institute notes in the Introduction to their report on these atrocities,

Between the end of Reconstruction and the years following World War II, thousands of Black veterans were accosted, assaulted, and attacked, and many were lynched. Black veterans died at the hands of mobs and persons acting under the color of official authority; many survived near-lynchings; and countless others suffered severe assaults and social humiliation. Documenting these atrocities is vital to understanding the incongruity of our country’s professed ideals of freedom and democracy while tolerating ongoing violence against people of color within our own borders.

The stories below are only a few of countless examples. Here are a few texts to learn more.

Lynching in America: Targeting Black Veterans by the Equal Justice Initiative

Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South by Christopher Parker. Introduction online

The Tragic and Ignored History of Black Veterans” by James Clark in Task and Purpose

We Return Fighting: World War I and the Shaping of Modern Black Identity” Introduction by  Lonnie G. Bunch III. Edited by Kinshasha Holman Conwill. Watch video of talk about the book and exhibit at NMAAHC.


July 4, 1963: Clyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard (June 12, 1927–July 4, 1963) bravely and righteously tried to pursue higher education in Mississippi. He faced the fatal wrath of the state as a result of his efforts to challenge white supremacy.
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