Forgotten Black History: First Black American Unit Commander -in Spain

This gets nearly no attention that I’ve seen, in Black History:

     They went to fight for the Spanish Republic, and for equality.  A friend from my synagogue in Albuquerque, NM, mentioned, speaking of a TV episode about the Spanish Civil War, her personal connection to this war:

As we discussed my all time favorite show, El Ministerio del Tiempo (sorry B5!!), a friend recently told me that one of her relatives had fought in the Spanish Civil War as part of the Lincoln Brigade which turned out to have been known officially as the Lincoln Batallion.

Looking into the history of the Lincoln Batallion, I found, among others, Oliver Law, a Black man who had to leave the USA to become the first African-American in US history to command a military unit (not counting NCOs during the US Civil War like Robert A. Pinn, who picked up the standard and command after the deaths of all of his officers), during the Spanish Civil War.

In total, one Black woman and 54 Black men volunteered from the United States, where they were treated with disdain, to fight racism and oppression on the other side of the Atlantic. They hoped to change things back home in the US, and they were following the calling of their consciences, to fight racism and oppression where they could: in Europe.  For Tom Page, it was the first time he was treated with human dignity, and for Salaria Kea, the only Black woman to volunteer, it was a dashing of hopes upon returning home.  But for all, it was honorable service to humanity.

Like Delmer Berg, the last surviving American to travel to Spain, 1/3 of the volunteers were Jewish. This was in keeping with a long but little-known tradition of cooperation between the Black and Jewish communities well before the 1960s.  In that sacred tradition, led by Dr. King, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Gandhi and many others, we must continue the cooperation between individuals, families, communities and states that so desperately needs to continue, to move us all forward as a united human race.

May all of their memories be a blessing to us all, and a reminder of Human Cooperation
Zichronam LiVrachah,
Shira Destinie Jones

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !
March 16th, 12017 HE

So, it turns out that Langston Hughes also fought Franco, and lived to tell about it:

“90 African-Americans who took up arms in Spain under the banner of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. … Baltimoreans who read the Afro-American would have learned about the war from its correspondent Langston Hughes.”

Continuing self and pro-bono education (aka Adulting Ed.) is part of Phase I of the Four Freedoms movement and part of increasing cooperation for the common good.  Now, rather than going off to fight, we can help to build:

Action Items:

1.) Search for two more examples of community cooperation.

2.) Share them with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Share your thoughts on how you feel such cooperation increases the Common Good,

4.) Write a book, blog post or tweet that uses this history.


Click here to read, if you like:

Science Fiction/Fantasy Shows,  Lupin, or Money Heist (soon)…

Holistic High School Lessons,

Thoughtful Readers, if you are on Twitter, please consider following   #Project Do Better  on Twitter.


Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


13 thoughts on “Forgotten Black History: First Black American Unit Commander -in Spain

    1. You are absolutely right, LaDonna!
      Thank you so much for reading, for your comments, and most of all for your support of this work!
      It will take all of us, and I am glad you are here with me, sharing your work as well!
      Very Warmest Regards,

      Liked by 5 people

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