Dr. Carla DuBose Gives History Lecture as Part of Black History Month

by Victoria Fennell

Dr. DuBose’s lecture focused on the strain between being patriotic and African American experiences. (Photo: Victoria Fennell)

Black History Month kicked off at WCC with a wealth of events being hosted on campus until the end of the month.

As part of the month-long celebration, a lecture entitled “The Struggle Between Patriotism and Civil Rights,” took place on Jan. 6. The lecture took a look at US history; in particular how race relations have changed over time, especially pertaining towards war.

Dr. Carla DuBose began her lecture by displaying a New Yorker magazine cover where Martin Luther King Jr. knelt in solidarity with controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seahawks player Michael Bennett, who was reportedly the subject of police discrimination. After discussing the background of the cover, DuBose discussed the history of black patriotism in greater detail.

“When the Black History Month Committee determined the theme of this year’s events would be African Americans in times of War, I knew that a talk on the relationship between patriotism and civil rights during times of war would be a perfect topic for the event,” said DuBose, the creator of the lecture.

“Patriotism has been used a means of control and justification for censorship in the past and still is today,” DuBose said. “If you look at World War I Italian and German immigrants, radicals, socialists, union leaders, African Americans, and any one speaking out against American involvement in the war were branded unpatriotic.”

Dubose’s lecture focused particularly on conflicting attitudes towards serving in the military from within the African American community throughout American history. Relevant quotes were used from several prominent African American leaders including W.E.B. DuBois and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

DuBose pointed out how the earlier conflict from within the African American community focused on the disparity between the inherently patriotic position of serving in the US military as opposed to the decidedly unpatriotic act of refusing to serve a system of segregation and oppression. However, later African American leaders including Dr. King posited that opposing a war on moral grounds is a feeling shared by millions of Americans, and is therefore not necessarily unpatriotic or anti-American.

“I would also say that patriotism has been a tool for people to argue for greater rights as well,” DuBose said. “We see this with African Americans during World War II. With Martin Luther King Jr, who determined that speaking out against the Vietnam War was ultimately a patriotic act.”

Learning about history and the conflict between patriotism and the struggle of being black in the United States can offer insights into some of the tensions today.

“I really want students to see that the current conditions in American society today are rooted in our history. I would never say that history repeats itself, but I would argue that we can see parallels between events of the past and the present,” DuBose said. “History provides us a means to more deeply understand America and the world in which we live.”

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