“The Late Major Walker”

I chose to read about Major Walker, about half way through the periodical. What stood out to me was how professional the tone of the piece was, even though it was clearly telling of how he wasn’t given a military funeral even with his accomplishments, and it specifically points this fact out. From the beginning, the article paints Major Walker as always wanting to help people, by starting with how he worked at the school, and then joined the military. The problem I see here is that in such a short piece, and because it is almost like a eulogy, there is nothing negative about him, which possibly there wasn’t. As Major Walker had died, it would seem fair to use only good things about him in what is essentially a picture caption, but even in a short amount of words, the point is clear to the reader. Even in an opinionated piece, the article kept its professional composure, which I didn’t see as much in The New Freewoman. I think that the writers of The New Freewoman were very opinionated and it showed strongly in their writing.

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2 thoughts on ““The Late Major Walker”

  1. I agree that the piece addressed Major Walker with a professional tone but I was surprised they maintained it throughout the piece. Today if an African American soldier was denied a soldier’s funeral there would be outcry. So in a time where racial tension was very high you would think a writer for the NAACP would be bothered by the denial of a funeral. I was very shocked that the only emotion the writer expressed was “We regret to learn…”. I agree that if a similar piece was put in the New Freewoman Journal it would be less professional and more opinionated. This journal overall was more professional compared to the strong opinions to feminism in the New Freewoman.

  2. Major Walker is an interesting piece. Surely, many black soldiers died in the First World War, so why does The Crisis choose to eulogize him in particular? First, he represents a highly successful and honorable black man, proven by the listing of his many accomplishments. He goes directly against the stereotypes attributed to black men at the time. Second, he is denied a proper military funeral, which is assumed to be because of his race. The two premises together implicitly form the argument, “Why should such a great man be denied a military funeral just because of the color of his skin?” Pieces such as this one form the overall strategy of The Crisis, which will be discussed in the next paragraph.

    Both The Crisis and The New Freewoman argue against discrimination. But when you compare the different language used by the two, a stark difference in tone, attitude, and even strategy is clearly seen. Major Walker is written like a news article. Factual, formal in tone, official. It is, in effect, a biography of the man, a list of his accomplishments, and finally, the injustice he faces in death. It is a systematic argument against racism derived from facts meant to legitimize black people and their opinions. The New Freewoman, on the other hand, goes into the left field to attract attention to the cause. Going from “The Late Major Walker” to Grierson’s “Woman’s New Era,” we see a change in tone away from the factual, and into the realm of opinion and radical claims. Grierson uses words such as “awakening,” “thought-power,” “psychic waves,” and so on and so forth. The differences derive from different goals: blacks were seeking legitimization and equality, to be shown through eloquence and dedication to the country. Women, who were traditionally kept quiet, just wanted to be heard, so they chose the “loudest” diction possible.

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