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May 10, 1919
Guest post by Katherine Garnett, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.
On May 11, 1919, the front page of the Broad Ax newspaper from Chicago, Illinois, was a full-page article on the review of the Eighth Regiment in Houston Texas. The Eighth Regiment was an African-American military band. The prejudice that existed toward blacks in the United States was evident. People questioned whether they would be in the division parade or be excluded due to the color of their skin, but the officer who made that decision was not concerned by that. As the regiment marched in formation in the parade, the black community was overwhelmed by how proud they were while the whites didn’t even clap. When the governor and general stopped by for a surprise inspection at Camp Logan, they were proud of the men they saw.
In 1919 the black soldiers of the Eighth Regiment felt it was their responsibility to show the whites that their impressions of them were wrong. They wanted to “convert the whites from hate to love” and prove whites wrong. They wanted them to know that they were not the lawless men that they had believed. These soldiers wanted to prove their patriotism for this country. They used the parade as their platform to do all that.
The parade and the Eighth Regiment’s exceptional review by the governor and general did exactly what these men wanted. They utilized a public event to their advantage and showed that the prejudice toward them would not get to them. They showed thousands that they were just as equal as whites were, and any beliefs that made them out to be anything less were false. The actions of the Eighth Regiment band contributed to a movement that would continue for decades to make blacks equal to whites.