Chad L. Williams with The Wounded World: W. E. B. Du Bois and the First World War
Presented in partnership with Boston Public Library and GBH Forum Network
Moderated by Kendra Field, Associate Professor, Tufts University
The dramatic story of W. E. B. Du Bois's reckoning with the betrayal of Black soldiers during World War I—and a new understanding of that era and of one of the great twentieth-century writers.
When W. E. B. Du Bois, believing in the possibility of full citizenship and democratic change, encouraged African Americans to “close ranks” and support the Allied cause in World War I, he made a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life. For more than two decades Du Bois attempted to write the definitive history of Black participation in World War I. His book, however, remained unfinished.
Drawing on a broad range of sources, most notably Du Bois’s unpublished manuscript and research materials, Williams tells the surprising story of this unpublished book, bringing new insight into Du Bois’s struggles to reckon with both the history and the troubling memory of the war. The Wounded World offers a fresh understanding of the life and mind of arguably the most significant scholar-activist in African American history.
Chad L. Williams is the Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of the award-winning book Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era and the coeditor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence. His writings and op-eds have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, and The Conversation.
Kendra Field is Associate Professor of History and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University. She is author of Growing Up with the Country: Family, Race, and Nation after the Civil War, which traces her ancestors' migratory lives after the Civil War, and is currently completing The Stories We Tell, a history of African American genealogy from the Middle Passage to the Present.