A Reserve Officers’ Training Camp, accommodating 1250, at Des Moines, Iowa, for Colored men (to fight in World War I), to start June 15th. Such as the official announcement of the War Department last Saturday, May 19th.
Stop but a moment, brother, and realize what this means. At present, we have only three (black) officers of the line in the army; in less than four months we shall have 1250 officers. Our due recognition at last. But no one who was not in the fight knows what a struggle we had to obtain the camp…
Some few people have opposed the camp as a ‘Jim Crow’ camp; they say we are sacrificing principle for policy. Let them talk. This camp is no more ‘Jim Crow’ than our newspapers, our churches, our schools. In fact, it is less ‘Jim Crow’ than our other institutions, for here the Government has assured us of exactly the same recognition, treatment, instruction and pay as men in any other camp get … Our great task is to meet the challenge hurled at our race. Can we furnish officers to lead our own troops into battle; or will they have to go again (and if they have to go now, they will go forever) under white officers?
Let us not mince matters; the race is on trial. It needs every one of its red-blooded, sober minded men. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, business men, and all men who have graduated from high school. Let the college student and graduate come and demonstrate by their presence the principles of virtue and courage learned in the academic halls. Up, brother, our race is calling.
Just think a moment how serious the situation is. Peal the war tocsin; stand by the race. If we fail, our enemies will dub us COWARDS for all time; and we can never win our rightful place. But if we succeed-then eternal success; a mighty and fascinating step forward; 1250 Colored Army officers leading Negro troops. Look to the future, brother, the vision is glorious.
Ever your brothers, Central Committee of Negro College Men.
A notice posted at Howard University in Washington D.C. on May 24, 1917 by
the Central Committee of Negro College Men. From pages 88-89 of
“Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the
World War”, by Emmett J. Scott, 1919