How black Philadelphians fought for soldiers during World War I

Suffering from “shell shock and a general breakdown,” Charles Mackall and James Randall arrived in Philadelphia in September 1918 from military service in France in the Great War. Mackall had been in trenches on the front line and had lain unconscious for 10 days. Randall had been a water tank driver. His afflictions, a newspaper article in The Chicago Defender reported, had left him unfit for military service.

The men belonged to the United States Army’s 301st Quartermaster Corps, a unit providing support to combat troops. In spite of their service to the country and their “invalided condition,” the two injured soldiers lacked access to medical care available to other troops. The reason: Mackall and Randall were African American. However, thanks to the philanthropic efforts of black Americans and white supporters, both men “were immediately provided for,” the Defender explained, “by the Crispus Attucks Circle, an organization for war and relief work among our Race.”

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