General John Pershing – Racial Egalitarian or Racial Bigot?

General John “Blackjack” Pershing has a complex history when it comes to his racial ideas about African Americans. This activity will allow students to explore his race ideas through his words and the words of others. Was General Pershing a man of his times or a man ahead of his times concerning race and racial justice?

Guiding Questions

  • Was General Pershing a racial egalitarian or a racial bigot?

Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • Interpret and analyze quotes by, and about, General Pershing.
  • Synthesize quotes into 140-character tweets.
  • Support an argument for or against Pershing as a racial egalitarian.


Students will read an account of how General John “BlackJack” Pershing got his nickname.


  • Assign students to read the quotes by, and about, General John Pershing.
  • Pair students off into groups of two or three and have each group create a tweet (140-word sentence) for each quote.
  • Assign each group to then write three additional tweets that summarize their feelings about whether General Pershing is a racial egalitarian or a racial bigot.


Students will transform each quote by, or about, Pershing into a tweet. Then, students will compose another three tweets arguing that Pershing was either a racial egalitarian or a racial bigot.


  • Students can sign up for Twitter and follow a World War I historian.
  • Students can post their tweets about General John Pershing.

Materials Needed

Quotes by, or about General John Pershing