These Truly Are the Brave:
An Anthology of African American Writings on War and Citizenship

Edited by A Yęmisi Jimoh and Françoise N. Hamlin

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"Powerfully connects the history of war and peace with the long black freedom struggle in the United States, illuminating as never before the relationship between war and citizenship in the African American experience."--Timothy Patrick McCarthy, coeditor of The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition

"A rich, provocative compilation that will stimulate important discussions on African Americans’ fraught relationship with the military."--Venetria Patton, editor of Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature

From enslaved people who joined Washington’s Continental Army to Buffalo Soldiers in the Indian Wars, from the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II to black men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, African Americans have been an integral part of the country’s armed forces--even while the nation questioned, challenged, and denied their rights, and oftentimes their humanity.

These Truly Are the Brave collects three centuries of poems, stories, plays, songs, essays, pamphlets, newspaper articles, speeches, oral histories, letters, and political commentaries, richly contextualizing them within their specific historical moments. This anthology offers perspectives on war, national loyalty, and freedom from a sweeping range of writers including Phillis Wheatley, James Weldon Johnson, Natasha Trethewey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Lucille Clifton, Vievee Francis, Michael S. Harper, Ann Petry, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many more. Some selections reveal African Americans embracing wartime service as a way to express citizenship; others show black people remaining steadfast in quiet civilian work. Courageously wrestling with their disputed place in American democracy, these writers expose and reexamine the foundations of U.S. citizenship.

A. Y. Jimoh is professor of African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of Spiritual, Blues, and Jazz People in African American Fiction: Living In Paradox. Françoise N. Hamlin is associate professor of Africana Studies and History at Brown University and the author of Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta after World War II.
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Phillis Wheatley Book Award - Finalist - 2016

[An] impressive array of readings. . . . this volume is a volume for anyone seeking to understand the wide diversity of responses to war and citizenship in African American literary history. . . . Highly Recommended. -- CHOICE

A ready and accessible means to access the frustrations of African Americans trying to reconcile war, American values, and their own place within a racial hierarchy. -- H-Net

The first of its kind, assembling an impressive array of African American voices on war and citizenship from the colonial period to the present. . . . These various texts and interviews attest to the enormous complexity of African Americans’ relation to the US military and the patriotic ideology it entails. No other anthology provides such a comprehensive insight into the crucial nexus between war, race, and nation in black history and literature. -- American Literary History

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