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broke, down and out. The sixty dollars he had received upon discharge was long gone. Things were really tough. The war boom had collapsed; millions tramped the streets jobless, some without food or shelter. Joe couldn't get his old job back. But his luck wasn't entirely gone. He finally wound up with a job as Mr. Gotrock's butler. Gotrock was one of the 25,000 new war millionaires. Joe was glad to get a job. It didn't pay much, but he had a place to stay and he could eat. Then Joe began to think. He hadn't had time to think before. Looking back on his experiences, he knew something was wrong. The road ahead was uncertain. What was the way out for his people? That was the question he kept asking himself. He was a soldier, a fighting man. It was all right as long as he could see the foe. Uncle Sam had taught him that. But now he couldn't see the enemy. He was ready to fight, but he couldn't tell where the fire was coming from. Joe used his time off walking the streets, thinking, trying to find his way clear. One night he walked into a street-corner meeting. He listened, charmed by the silver-toned voice of an orator. It was Mr. Barcus Harvey speaking for the "Back-to-Africa" movement: "Black men and women, brothers and sisters, clear thinking demands that we get one thing in our mind-this is a white man's country. We will never win the freedom which our people long for, while we are here. "Only dreamers and fools can believe that the white man who lynches us, who has enslaved us for ages, will heed our cry for equality. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. The white labor movement, which pretends to come forward as our champion, represents the same white workers who make up the lynch mobs and the Ku Klux Klan. This was shown in the recent riots. The only way out for the black man is to go back to Africa, his homeland, where he can organize his own government, his own army, elect his own representatives. Then he will be able to sit in the council of nations on equal terms with white men." Joe thought this thing over. He put his soldier's mind to work. The white race is our enemy, Harvey had said. It was 12 [[end page]] [[start page]] black against white. That meant 14,000,000 against 107,000,000. If that was the only way out, it was just too bad. Somehow it didn't jibe with the facts, either. Joe had some white friends who were against Jim-Crow. And then, about Africa? Suppose 14,000,000 Negroes did want to go. How were they to get there? Where was the site of the black government to be, with Africa divided among the big white powers? No, there was no solution there. "Besides," thought Joe in a sudden burst of resentment, "this is my country, too. I worked and fought to help make it what it is. I know this country. I belong here. What in the world do I know about Africa?" Joe kept walking and thinking. He bumped into another street-corner meeting, this time a labor gathering. The orator, a white man, was straightforward. He explained the causes of war and the crises of unemployment. He drew a picture of the last World War, a picture that Joe could understand. It was this: "The war murdered ten million young men. It ravished cities and countries. It destroyed and mangled men, women, children. It created millionaires and corpses. It ended as millions in all lands- England, France, Germany, America, the colonies- began to ask the bankers and generals: 'What are we fighting for?' We boys from America, black and white, soon found out what it was all about. It was not a war to end all wars, as the cynical liars in press and pulpit told us. I twas not a war to make the world safe for democracy, as Woodrow Wilson told us. It was a robbers' war. A war for loot; for division of colonies, profits and markets. Look at the peace treaty signed at Versailles. A robbers' war followed by a robbers' peace. One gang of crooks robbed by a rival gang of crooks. "The question is: how did we get into it? You and I didn't want it. The American people didn't want it. We even voted for Wilson in 1916 because he boasted he had kept America out of war. Six months later we found ourselves going over in ships of death. It is time now to recall how we got in. Forewarned is forearmed, lest we be tricked again. 13
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