War in Keene and Crisis

In Jennifer Keene's "Images of Racial Pride: African American Propaganda Posters in the First World War," Keene writes about the efforts to appeal war propaganda to black Americans. It is interesting, then, to consider the reaction of The Crisis to such efforts, when the February 1913 issue of The Crisis states, "Our record for clean advertising is history. No exaggerated statements or impossible propositions are permitted in our columns" (198). Of course, the publishers of The Crisis are referring to advertisements--but what are some forms of propaganda if not advertisements? More on this, The Crisis itself seems to define its response to war fairly neatly in the October 1914 issue: "Then the Lord of Hosts moved out of the temple and looked down upon the earth. As they have sowed So shall they reap. Let it go on, He said" (297). In short, The Crisis pre-US entry into World War I seems to indicate a lack of interest--or rather, as Daniel mentions in his blog post, the perception of the war as justice.

How then does The Crisis so radically change its views?

As discussed in class, the war promised opportunity for black advancement. Keene writes, "Many saw the war as a chance to advance the civil rights agenda. Here was an opportunity to prove their metal in battle and demosntrate both the key role they played in the economy and their willingness to sacrifice and die to ensure their nation's security" (207). The Crisis matches this view in later years, such as in their June 1918 issue. The cover of the "Soldiers Number" seems to have several layers to its intention. The first and most obvious layer is in prominently displaying a black man in a soldier's uniform. There can be no doubt that The Crisis is situating its viewership right in the midst of this American crisis. The man is a soldier, and his sacrfices are the same as his white countrymen. There is also the red, white, and blue colors--another symbol of claiming full citizenship as Americans.

In this view of equality, then, it might be argued that The Crisis does not view its own endorsement of the war as "impossible propositions." That would, in itself, be an anti-thesis to The Crisis--even as the seeming endorsement of war might not.