YORK — York College will host a special screening of the documentary Black Jack Pershing: Love and War on Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. This free event will feature a Q&A session with the film’s producer, Barney McCoy, professor of communication at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and one of the collaborators on the project, Dr. Tim McNeese, professor of history at York College.
The film will be shown in the Mackey Center Miller Room (second floor). All are invited to attend. Funding for this program is provided by Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and the State of Nebraska.
Today, Pershing’s name is recognized by few Americans, even in Nebraska where an important part of Pershing’s life unfolded. In 1891, Pershing began a four-year stay at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he led the cadet training program while attending law school.
McNeese, who has written a book on Pershing, said that when Pershing arrived at UNL he found a cadet training program that was a mess. Within a year, 350 students joined Pershing’s UNL’s cadet corps. And in June of 1892, Pershing’s cadets were put to the test at a national drill competition in Omaha. The packed parade crowd included governors from several states, including Nebraska.
When it was announced that Pershing’s UNL cadets had won their maiden division and national competition, hundreds of UNL students and faculty charged the field to celebrate, and they were led by Chancellor James Canfield.
In 1895, Pershing’s time at UNL came to an end. Fueled by the friendships he formed in Lincoln, Pershing re-committed himself to the military. In honor of their recently departed Lieutenant, UNL’s elite drill team renamed itself “Pershing’s Rifles.” Today units like them across the country are known as the National Society of Pershing Rifles.
McNeese’s book on Pershing was published in 2003. He was approached by Nebraska Educational TV (NET) to lend his expertise on the renowned World War I general for Black Jack Pershing: Love and War in 2015. The program aired on NET in 2017.