Gold Star Mothers
When a family had a loved one in the service they flew a service flag with a blue star for
each family member serving in the military, and a gold star for each family member who
died in the service of his or her country.
On May 28, 1918, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Council for
National Defense that, instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who died,
American women should wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for
each member of the family who has given his life for the nation.
Between 1930 and 1933 government sponsored Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages were
arranged to bring mothers and widows to France to visit the graves of their loved ones,
however in the Jim Crow era, white mothers and black mothers received different
accommodations and transport.
Among the supporters of a boycott protesting this discrimination was Darby's transportation
and civil rights pioneer John Mott Drew, who received perhaps the first PUC license in
Pennsylvania in 1918 to operate a jitney service so domestic workers could get to their jobs
A number of black mothers refused to go on the pilgrimage, while a number chose to accept
this "survivor’s benefit" and spoke of the respectful treatment they received. Much of the
success was due to the understanding and day to day organizational skills of then Colonel
(and later Brigadier General) Benjamin O. Davis. Sr. and others who saw an opportunity to
honor black mothers while highlighting African-American wartime sacrifice in the face of
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