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Annual Veteran’s & Active Military Day Celebration

  • Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County 4243 Loudoun Ave The Plains, VA 20198 USA (map)

Keynote Speaker and Author: Dr. Eugene DeFriest Bétit

Author will address African American service in World War I, when two infantry divisions comprising 50,000 men were deployed for front-line service. They arrived in advance of most of the American Expeditionary Force with inadequate training because of Jim Crow issues around their training bases in the South. One division, the 93rd, was deployed with the French, who treated them as men. Three out of four of its regiments were awarded the Croix de Guerre, with many individual awards for valor in all four regiments. The “Buffaloes” of the 92nd were offered to and rejected by the British, languishing in reserve, much maligned by white officers and the rest of the AEF.

The presentation will include “Red Summer,” when returning African American veterans were accosted and some killed by mobs indignant at seeing a black in uniform. W.E.B DuBois spent months in Europe covering black soldiers and returned indignant over false reports of rapes committed by blacks in Europe. He published a series of well-documented reportage in Crisis, the NAACP’s magazine.

Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid, African Americans’ 400 Years in North America 1619-2019, is a comprehensive study of white supremacy and the racism African Americans have encountered since arriving in Virginia in 1619, history seldom taught in school.

Books will be available for purchase.

~ Author’s Bio ~

Dr. Eugene DeFriest Bétit served twenty years in the US Army as a military intelligence analyst and German and Russian linguist. Selected for the Soviet Foreign Area Officer's program, he studied Russian in California, Garmisch, Germany, and Georgetown University. where he received a MA and Ph. D. After retiring from the Army, he taught German and Russian at an Arlington high school two years before embarking on a quarter-century career in various aspects of social justice, primarily affordable housing.

He recently published War's Cost: The Hites' Civil War and Manhattan's Walloon Settlers: Jesse DeForest's Legacy, also available through Barnes and Noble, Books-a-MIllion, Amazon, and genebetit.com.

Bétit and his wife Sheila live at Lake Holiday near Winchester, Virginia after living in Arlington 35 years. He is a docent at Belle Grove Manor and has served as a volunteer with the National Park Service at Cedar Creek and as the librarian for the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, all in Middletown, Virginia.

For further information, contact: genebetit@gmail.com; 703 867-4120

Open invitation for Veterans to share their experiences during an open mic session.

Please note: auditorium and museum level are not wheelchair accessible, however accommodations for viewing on 1st floor in library and research room via live feed are available, wheelchair entrance in rear of building.

Earlier Event: September 23
All Souls to the Polls
Later Event: December 7
Holiday Open House