"The Crisis" and Information

After reading Keene’s piece and looking at the June 1918 issue of “The Crisis,” I was interested in large separation between the official information and information that “The Crisis” is putting forward alongside it. The “Editorial” section of this edition of “The Crisis” especially shows how the editors were doing their best to help with the war effort, but they were also showing their criticisms about the lack of information that was either being presented by the official propaganda, or the lack of information that African Americans had in general. “Our First Great Tragedy of the War” on page 60 draws attention to this separation – the government asking for the help of those they had beaten down and had not given the same education that had been give to white Americans. J. B. Watson even starts his editorial section with, “I have seen thousands of Negro men received into the provisional army of the United States who cannot read or write” (p. 60). In starting his section in this way Watson starts a conversation regarding the lack of information that was given to African Americans, and this continues through his entire letter as he talks about the lack of geographical knowledge, the lack of knowledge on what the war was about, and even a certain expectation of how long the war would take. All of this is then placed in direct relation with Watson’s ending statement, “We are glad they have been called. All honor to these black men that ‘they are making a fine showing,’ as reads the report from every camp,” (p. 60). Even with the lack of information that was given during the recruitment process, the African American community were still glad to have been called on – they were still glad that they were able to do this for this for their country. However, there was also a sense that while they were honored to have been called on and that they were able to represent their country in such a way, they were still well aware of what they were lacking as citizens. The education that Watson discusses, Jim Crow laws still being active, and the over-all feeling that they were limited as citizens were all talking points within “The Crisis.”


I would say that this June 1918 issue of The Crisis is operating on the information they are given with healthy skepticism, and a feeling of honor and responsibility to support the war effort as a major tenant of the magazine's mission of racial uplift. The attitudes of the Black soldiers who were now being asked by the government to join the war effort, despite always being treated as second-class citizens is an example of this dual sentiment. The Black soldier's willingness to fight is exemplary of the editor's operation during this time. The soldiers are honored to be able to defend their country, but they are simultaneously aware of the unfair treatment they have received, and that they will continue to endure amidst this new title. In the same way, the editors of The Crisis are most likely aware that they are not receiving complete and honest information, but they still have a responsibility to write a magazine that advocates for racial uplift. Joining the war effort for African American men is extremely important because, for them, it has a subversive effect; the chance to raise Blacks out of bondage and into a new state of freedom, of emancipation. A chance to break forth upon new paths that have never been offered to them before. The editors of The Crisis knew this, and I would assume that is why they felt the need to endorse the propaganda machine of misinformation in war times.