Digital History Seminar: 20th Century Spain

After Spain

In 1939 the war in Spain would end, and the volunteers would return back home. African Americans returned from Spain unified with their white brother, who they fought with. Upon arriving back home, there were two groups of people. The first group of people were the well-wishers. They greeted the veterans with kisses, hugs, and shouts. But the second group of people were people who did not honor their courage against fascism. FBI agents were there, as the men arrived, to arrest them and confiscated their passports. The New York reality set in. After Yates’ white fellow soldiers registered at a hotel, the clerk told him “No Vacancy.” Yates said he felt like he was back in the trenches again. 

Though black had returned home to a different kind of warfare, they grew tougher.  During World War II Yates served in a segregated U.S. Army Signal Corps unit, but because of his service in Spain, he had to be pulled out before his unit left for overseas. Veterans like Crawford Morgan (Pictured on the Left side of picture) and Joe Taylor had to serve in what Taylor called “nasty jobs.” 

Not all stories post Spanish Civil War are bad. Luchelle McDaniels would work to integrate and led marches in South Africa and then to his home state of Mississippi. Walter Garland helped invent an improved Machine gun site. Salaria Kea enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps and her experience was highly valued. Jerry Weinberg won a Distinguished Flying Cross for bombing raids over enemy Romania, during WWII. In 1945 Sergeant Edward Carter Jr. was decorated for his extraordinary courage when he single handedly fought off a German squad and returned with two prisoners despite with eight shrapnel’s and bullet wounds. Talk about tough. 

After Spain many Lincoln veteran, white and black, returned to fight for social right in the United States. Many supported the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr or the Black Power movement. 

From 1964 to 1968 Yates served as president of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea chapter of the NAACP1, that sent food and supplies to civil rights activities in the state of Mississippi. Many more veteran would help rebuild community center, that were torn down by the KKK, others would march, and serve as teacher teaching medical care to African Americans in Mississippi. 
Vaughn Love saw the fighters for South African Freedom as part of his battle against racism and fascism. The ALB became one of the first organizations to help send aid to the African National Congress, to demand the release of Nelson Mandela.2
African American who fought in Spain did not automatically embrace the civil rights policy of nonviolence. They thought that the entrenched bigotry would not bow to nonviolence preached by religious leaders. The “Black Power” movement attracted black veterans such as Harry Haywood.3

​​​​​​​He talked about African American talking political power in their own hands. 

The African American of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade never ceased their fight against fascism. They would carry it into World War II and into the long struggle for human Rights. 

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