Marlboro College

NewsPress Release: 9/18/02

MARLBORO, VT – A speaker set to talk at Marlboro will bring students, faculty, staff, and member of the public back 85 years in history with the argument that not much has changed.

Theodore Kornweibel, Jr, a professor of Africana studies at San Diego State University, will speak on his latest book, "Investigate Everything": Federal Efforts to Compel Black Loyalty During World War I, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24 in Apple Tree at Marlboro College.

Kornweibel has drawn the comparison between the terrorism faced by today’s people to that of the African American population during the time of the First World War.

To demonstrate this comparison, Kornweibel writes: “America awoke to find itself attacked by foreigners committing unthinkable acts of terrorism. The attack, heard and seen throughout the New York area, gripped the entire nation and shattered its sense of invulnerability and security. In the months that followed, enemy agents were rounded up, while rumors of still more sabotage multiplied. An entire ethnic group was stigmatized as disloyal. The FBI swung into action to ferret out suspects. Civil liberties took a beating. Individuals were targeted simply because of their religious beliefs. The President led the country into war, not to conquer enemy territory, but to make the world a safer place. America had been forever changed.

This happened, not in 2001, but 85 years earlier. In 1916, German saboteurs blew up ammunition warehouses on the New Jersey side of New York harbor causing an inferno visible for miles. Early in 1917, Germany launched U-boat attacks against American merchant shipping, propelling the nation into World War I. Almost immediately, whites suspected African Americans of being either disloyal, or the gullible dupes of German agents. Black editors and publications were threatened and prosecuted. So too were individuals who dared to question the war or the President. An entire black denomination, the Church of God in Christ, was charged with disloyalty and its leadership arrested. Led by the FBI, the federal government demanded unquestioning loyalty from the distrusted and persecuted black minority.”

During his lecture at Marlboro, Kornweibel will address questions such as how Americans should respond to terrorist threats, the fate of civil liberties in wartime, and whether or not innocence is still assumed before proven guilt. He will look at the lessons to be learned today from the intolerance of the World War I era.

Kornweibel is well known for his works in the area of Africana studies. Most recently, C-SPAN has voiced interest in featuring him during a question-and-answer session on this topic. He is also the author of “No Crystal Stair: In Search of the Promised Land,” and “Seeing Red: Federal Campaigns Against Black Militancy.”

For more information on Kornweibel’s latest work contact Marilyn Breiter, Indiana University Press at (812) 855-5429. For signings, contact the author at (619) 594-1555, or kornweib@mail.sdsu.edu

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