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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Korean war remembered

By Kelly Wilson
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 18, 2005

Gerald Early, professor of modern letters at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., lectured on the Korean War and its importance in American culture March 10, in Holland Hall.

Early talked about "The Forgotten War." He defined the Korean conflict not only as U.S. relief for southern Korea, but also as an American check on communist aggression by northern Korea, largely due to post-World War II security anxieties about "unappeased aggression."

Early informed his audience about when, how and why the war happened, and its importance in American history. Early concluded by discussing the war’s significant impact on racial issues in the U.S., specifically, the conflicts surrounding military integration.

He commented extensively on how the Korean war "was the first to press integrative policies in the military," and how it "showed that the racial situation in America was being played out on an international level."

He also discussed his experiences talking to black soldiers about segregation, the discrimination they faced and the inferiority they felt during their service in the war.

"Some of the men became so emotional they began to cry when recounting their experiences in Korea," Early said.

Due to audience participation and Early's engaging lecture style, the lecture went past its allotted time. Many listeners asked questions. "I want you to go get books on this war, see documentaries on this war," Early said.

Early, who is also a professor of English and African and Afro-American studies and the director of the Center for Humanities at Washington University, won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for his book entitled “The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture.” His fields include American literature, African American culture 1940-1960, Afro-American autobiography and non-fiction prose.

Early has edited many volumes, including his most recent, “This is Where I Came From: Black America in the 1960s” (2003), “The Sammy Davis Jr. Reader” (2001), “The Muhammad Ali Reader” (1998), and “Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation” (1993). He has also written several of his own works, including “One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture” (1994), “Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood” (1994) and “Tuxedo Junction” (1989). He was also a correspondent for the popular Ken Burns series on African American boxer Jack Johnson. Early’s current projects include a book about Fisk University.

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