|Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
Freddie Stowers, the grandson of a South Carolina slave, holds a unique spot in America’s pantheon of war heroes — as the only African American awarded the Medal of Honor for service in World War I. Stowers’ story, however, must be told in two parts.
The first part of the story is his act of heroism in 1918; the second part is that it took more than 72 years before Stowers finally received the recognition he was due.
The United States was the last major combatant to enter World War I, the “war to end all wars.” The conflict began in Europe in 1914, but in the U.S., isolationist sentiments were strong resulting in a foreign policy of non-intervention. However, in April 1917, after a German U-boat sank the British ship Lusitania, killing 128 Americans on board, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Three months later, on July 3, 1917, American troops landed in France.
Corporal Freddie Stowers came to France as part of the all-black Company C, 371st Regiment, 93rd Division that deployed in September, 1918. His service in France was short but courageous and memorable.
More than 50 years after the Civil War, America’s military was still segregated. The French, however, had no such rules, and Stowers and Company C were sent to the front lines to serve alongside French troops.
On September 28, just days after arriving in France, Stowers’ company was in the midst of an attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, when enemy forces appeared to be giving up.
According to the War Department, German soldiers emerged from their trenches waving a white flag, arms in the air — military actions that signal surrender. It was a ruse, however. As Americans, including Cpl. Stowers, went to capture the “surrendering” Germans, another wave of the enemy arose and opened fire.
Very quickly, Company C’s lieutenant and non-commissioned officers were killed in the fight. This left the 21-year-old Stowers in command. Without hesitation, he implored his men to advance on the Germans.
Stowers would be mortally shot during the exchange. Wounded and dying, Stowers continued to fight on, inspiring his men to push the enemy back. With Stowers leading the counter-attack, Americans took out an enemy machine gun position and went on to capture Hill 188.
Following the battle, Stowers’ commanding officer nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the nomination was never processed. The Pentagon said the paperwork was misplaced. Some raise the possibility that the nomination wasn’t misplaced at all, but deliberately lost. They point to the fact that American troops were segregated and suggest that racial bias in the military might be the reason for Stowers’ missing paperwork.
The final part of Freddie Stowers’ story begins in 1990. As the Department of Defense began to modernize its data systems, it ordered a review of all battlefield medal nominations. When Stowers’ recommendation was found, the Pentagon quickly took action to give the corporal the long overdue recognition and honor he deserved.
On April 24, 1991, more than 72 years after Stowers made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation, his sisters Georgiana Palmer and Mary Bowens, 88- and 77-years-old at the time, were presented his Medal of Honor by President George H. W. Bush.
Long before Stowers was honored by his nation, he, along with other members of Company C, received recognition from the French government: “For extraordinary heroism under fire.” Stowers and his unit received the Croix de Guerre – the French War Cross — the highest military medal France awards to allied soldiers.
Prior to World War I, 49 African Americans had been awarded the Medal of Honor, including 25 men who fought for the Union in the Civil War. There were 119 Medals of Honor recipients in World War I, with Stowers being the only African American. His long overdue recognition in 1991 is a small but important sign of the progress we as a nation have made.
|The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution’s family of extraordinary museums.
The museum will be far more than a collection of objects. The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.
In days, Nigeria’s Parliament could approve a $5 billion fine against giant oil polluter Shell for a spill that devastated the lives of millions of people, and pass a law to hold all oil companies to account for polluting and plundering. This is a watershed moment, but unless we all speak out, oil giants will crush it.
Finally, Big Oil is having to pay for the wasteland and violence that they’ve created. President Jonathan supports the Shell fine, and progressive Senators are pushing for strong regulations, but oil companies are slick, and without huge international support MPs could buckle under the pressure.
Politicians are deciding their positions right now — sign the urgent petition for the Nigerian Parliament to fine Shell and support the bill, and then forward this to everyone — when we hit a million signers we’ll bring our unprecedented global call to the steps of Nigeria’s Parliament:
Experts say that every year Big Oil spills as much crude into the Niger Delta as an Exxon Valdez, but as it is Africa, it gets little media play. After a leak occurred at Shell’s Bonga oil facility last December, millions of gallons poured into the ocean and washed up on the densely populated coast — resulting in one of the largest African oil spills ever. The fine and bill on the table are a once in a lifetime chance to stand up to Big Oil.
Oil companies have made $600 billion in the last 50 years in Nigeria, but locals don’t see the benefits. Their land, drinking water and fishing grounds are ruined. And Shell has spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year on security forces, repressing protest against its harmful practices.
The oil industry is crucial to the economy, but companies have never been held to account for the devastation of drilling. Now, the Nigerian President and a few brave MPs are speaking out and they could finally slam the oil giants with tough fines and give fair pay outs to the victims. If we show MPs that the world supports these crucial steps, we can literally change the lives of millions. Click below to sign the urgent petition:
Avaazers have stood up to Big Oil all over the world, from Chevron in Ecuador, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to ending fossil fuel subsidies at the Rio Summit. Now let’s do it for Nigeria too. Make sure the politicians send a message to Big Oil: your days of impunity are over.
With hope and determination,
Pascal, Patricia, Alex, Ricken, David, Rewan, and the Avaaz team
Shell Faces $5 Billion Nigeria Fine (Wall Street Journal)
Shell urged to pay Nigeria $5bn over Bonga oil spill (BBC)
Shell’s grip on Nigerian state revealed (The Guardian)
U.N. slams Shell as Nigeria needs biggest ever oil clean-up (Reuters)
Nigeria: Oil spill investigations ‘a fiasco’ in the Niger Delta (Amnesty International)
the Senate Convenes at 2:30pmET November 14, 2012
- Following the prayer and pledge, the first hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees with the Majority controlling the first half and the Republicans controlling the final half.
- The filing deadline for first degree amendments to S.3525, the Sportsmen’s Act is 4:00pm on Wednesday.
- During Tuesday’s session of the Senate, cloture was filed on S.3525. Under the rule, that cloture vote will occur on Thursday morning.
The filing deadline for first degree amendments to S.3525, Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, is 4:00pm today. If your senator has a germane amendment and would like to preserve their ability to offer, please send a signed copy of the amendment to the cloakroom prior to the deadline so that we may file it at the desk for you.
The Senate has reached an agreement that at 4:30pm today the motion to proceed to the motion to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on S.3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, be agreed to; the motion to reconsider be agreed to; and that there be 60 minutes for debate divided between the two Leaders, or their designees, on the motion to invoke cloture on S.3414; and that upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to the cloture vote on S.3414, upon reconsideration.
As a result of this agreement, at approximately 5:30pm today the Senate will proceed to a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S.3414, Cybersecurity Act of 2012, upon reconsideration.
5:36pm The Senate began a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S.3414, Cybersecurity Act of 2012, upon reconsideration;
Not Invoked: 51-47
1) Motion to invoke cloture on S.3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, upon reconsideration; Not Invoked: 51-47
Passed H.R.6131, a bill to extend the Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2006, and for other purposes (SAFEWEB Act) by voice vote.
Adopted S.Res.596, a resolution permitting the solicitation of donations in the Senate buildings for the relief of victims of Superstorm Sandy.
No EXECUTIVE ITEMS
The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on November 14, 2012.
|10:00:12 A.M.||The House convened, starting a new legislative day.|
|10:00:18 A.M.||The Speaker designated the Honorable Daniel Webster to act as Speaker pro tempore for today.|
|10:01:08 A.M.||MORNING-HOUR DEBATE – The House proceeded with Morning-Hour Debate. At the conclusion of Morning-Hour, the House will recess until 12:00 p.m. for the start of legislative business.|
|10:16:49 A.M.||The Speaker announced that the House do now recess. The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. today.|
|12:00:50 P.M.||The House convened, returning from a recess continuing the legislative day of November 14.|
|12:00:58 P.M.||Today’s prayer was offered by Reverend Donna Kafer, Arizona Legislative Chaplaincy, Peoria, Arizona.|
|12:02:21 P.M.||The Speaker announced approval of the Journal. Pursuant to clause 1, rule I, the Journal stands approved.|
|12:03:26 P.M.||Walz of MN to lead the Members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.|
|12:03:49 P.M.||ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded with one minute speeches which by direction of the Chair, would be limited to 15 per side of the aisle.|
|12:27:20 P.M.||The Speaker announced that votes on suspensions, if ordered, will be postponed until a time to be announced.|
|12:28:11 P.M.||H.R. 2606||Mr. Amodei moved that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendment.|
|12:28:27 P.M.||H.R. 2606||DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on the motion to suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2606.|
|12:33:54 P.M.||H.R. 2606||On motion that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by voice vote.|
|12:33:55 P.M.||H.R. 2606||Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.|
|12:34:19 P.M.||H.R. 6570||Mr. Garrett moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill. H.R. 6570 — “To amend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to consolidate certain CBO reporting requirements.”|
|12:34:35 P.M.||H.R. 6570||Considered under suspension of the rules.|
|12:34:38 P.M.||H.R. 6570||DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 6570.|
|12:41:30 P.M.||H.R. 6570||On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.|
|12:41:33 P.M.||H.R. 6570||Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.|
|12:42:24 P.M.||H.R. 2453||Mr. Luetkemeyer moved that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendments.|
|12:42:36 P.M.||H.R. 2453||DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on the motion to suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendments to H.R. 2453.|
|12:48:33 P.M.||H.R. 2453||At the conclusion of debate, the Yeas and Nays were demanded and ordered. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the chair announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed.|
|12:49:17 P.M.||H.R. 6116||<MR. class=hiddenSpellError pre=”Mr ” Coble moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. H.R. 6116 — “To amend the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands to provide for direct appeals to the United States Supreme Court of decisions of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.”|
|12:49:50 P.M.||H.R. 6116||Considered under suspension of the rules.|
|12:49:55 P.M.||H.R. 6116||DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 6116.|
|1:04:35 P.M.||H.R. 6116||On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.|
|1:04:38 P.M.||H.R. 6116||Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.|
|1:04:41 P.M.||H.R. 6116||The title of the measure was amended. Agreed to without objection.|
|1:05:03 P.M.||H.R. 5934||Mr. Coble moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill. H.R. 5934 — “To amend title 18, United States Code, to include certain territories and possessions of the United States in the definition of State for the purposes of chapter 114, relating to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.”|
|1:05:21 P.M.||H.R. 5934||Considered under suspension of the rules.|
|1:05:23 P.M.||H.R. 5934||DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 5934.|
|1:17:16 P.M.||H.R. 5934||On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.|
|1:17:18 P.M.||H.R. 5934||Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.|
|1:17:51 P.M.||that that body had agreed to the House amendment to S. 743.|
|1:18:16 P.M.||ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded with further one minute speeches.|
|1:18:35 P.M.||SPECIAL ORDER SPEECHES – The House has concluded all anticipated legislative business and has proceeded to Special Order speeches.|
|2:58:44 P.M.||Mr. Paul moved that the House do now adjourn.|
|2:58:58 P.M.||On motion to adjourn Agreed to by voice vote.|
|2:58:59 P.M.||The House adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on November 15, 2012.|