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KU Department of History to Host Biennial Willits Lecture

February 19, 2014

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University's Department of History will hold its biennial Esther Willits Lecture at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, April 1 in Sharadin room 120. This year's speaker, Dr. Chad Williams, professor and chair of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University, will lecture on African American soldiers' wartime experiences and the impact these had on postwar civil rights and cultural activities.

This presentation is free and open to the public.

Williams, who specializes in African American military and political environments of the World War I era, is the recipient of the prestigious Liberty Legacy Foundation Award and the Distinguished Book Award for U.S. History from the Society for Military History for his first book, "Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era."

"We're excited to have such a nationally recognized young scholar at Kutztown University," said Douglas Lea, assistant professor of history at KU. "The First World War era was a defining moment in the history of African Americans, and Dr. Williams' talk will examine the sometimes troubled connections between citizenship, obligation and race, while highlighting black soldiers' experiences fighting on behalf of a democracy that often denied them rights and dignity. The war had a resounding impact on both the soldiers' lives and the broader civil rights movement from the 1920s on."

Kutztown University's Department of History offers concentrations in several historical fields to prepare students for the Bachelor of Arts degree, the Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and the Bachelor of Arts degree with Paralegal Studies, as well as advanced study at the graduate level. 

For additional information about this event, please contact professor Douglas Lea at