Earl Dickerson, '20, Fight for Justice

Founding value, long march for equality.

“To the extent that I make a contribution to causes which have continuity, then I gain something which in itself has immortality.”

- Earl B. Dickerson, Illinois, founder and life member of Lt. George Giles American Legion Post 87 in Chicago, who amassed a storied career as a lawyer, business executive, Chicago City Council member, Illinois assistant attorney general and equal-rights activist in the 20th century

Earl B. Dickerson, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s 92nd Division who fought in the trenches of France during World War I, was among the earliest American Legion founders to inspire a value that endures today in the organization: a veteran is a veteran, regardless of race, creed, color or class.

Dickerson was one of about 25 African-American delegates who participated in the formative St. Louis Caucus May 8-10, 1919, where the words “justice, freedom and democracy” were inscribed in the Preamble to The American Legion Constitution.

His trust in those three concepts – and the hope they held in particular for the future of black Americans – had moved him to enlist in the Army in 1917. He voluntarily stepped away from his studies at the University of Chicago Law School and marched into harm’s way, to fight for America and principles that ultimately lit his way to a distinguished career in law, business, public service and civil rights advocacy.

Read more at The American Legion