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An Army Afire: How the US Army Confronted Its Racial Crisis in the Vietnam Era

Date & Time

Oct. 30, 2023
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET


Online Only
Zoom Webinar


In the early 1970s, U.S. Army leaders worried that racial conflict within the ranks would undermine the army’s ability to defend the nation. Historian Beth Bailey analyzes Army attempts to solve that racial crisis (in army terms, “the problem of race”), arguing that Army leaders were surprisingly creative in confronting demands for racial justice, even willing to challenge fundamental army principles of discipline, order, hierarchy, and authority. They acted in the interest of the army, but their actions fostered racial justice and equality.

Beth Bailey is Foundation Distinguished Professor of history and director of the Center for Military, War, and Society Studies at the University of Kansas. She has authored or edited twelve books, including An Army Afire: How the US Army Confronted Its Racial Crisis in the Vietnam Era (2023) and America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force (2009). Bailey chairs the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Subcommittee; her honors include a Carnegie Fellowship and the Society for Military History’s Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partner (the George Washington University History Department) for their continued support.


Gregory A. Daddis

Gregory A. Daddis

Professor of History, San Diego State University

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

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