Women in Kentucky - Military
“It was raining that April morning as the train rolled into the station at Lawrenceburg. It was one of those day-long rains that slows the world down and gives you time to reflect. They had been waiting to meet the train that was bringing her back home. Home to her final resting place, this young woman who had, in the short span of 24 years, accomplished so much, not only for herself but for her race and her gender.”
--From “A Pioneer in Military Leadership” by John Trowbridge, used with permission.
Lt. Anna Mac Clarke: Anna Mac Clarke was born June 20, 1919 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. While attending Kentucky State University Anna Mac was involved in sports, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,and the school's newspaper, The Kentucky Thorobred. In 1941, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in sociology and economics, but she was unable to find a job back home in Lawrenceburg. Educated African American women in the early 1940s had few options, particularly in small towns where the only jobs available to them were low-paying.
In 1942, Anna Mac Clarke joined the All-Volunteer Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and left for Basic Training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. After she completed Basic Training, Clarke went on to Officer Candidate School. As a black officer at Fort Des Moines, Clarke faced segregation such as not being allowed to swim in the pool on the base, except during a one-hour period on Fridays, after which the pool was purified. Yet it was during this time that Clarke became the first black WAAC to commander an all white-regiment.
Clarke continued to be promoted, and became a First Lieutenant in 1943, around the same time that the WAAC became a part of the regular military, becoming the Women’s Army Corps. Clarke and other African American officers stopped the Army from establishing an all-black regiment at Fort Des Moines. She then led the first group of WAC officers onto the Douglas Army Air Field in 1944, where she initiated an end to segregation on the base. Soon after, Lt. Clarke died when her appendix ruptured and gangrene entered her body. She was buried back home in Lawrenceburg, where a historic marker now tells her story.
(summarized from “A Pioneer in Military Leadership” by John Trowbridge)
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