Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II recently announced a tribute to an outstanding alumna as part of the annual Veterans Recognition Assembly.
President Brown presented a resolution to designate the University’s annual assembly as the Anna Mac Clarke Veterans Recognition Assembly.
“The history of Kentucky State University is full of significant Kentuckians and national treasures of historical importance,” President Brown said. “It is imperative that we shine light on these too often hidden figures so their names, their legacies, and their good works never perish from the earth. And certainly if no other place celebrates their achievements, the names of great Kentucky State alumni should echo from the College on the Hill.”
Clarke, a Lawrenceburg native, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and economics and a certificate of Sunday training school at Kentucky State in 1941. Upon graduation, Clarke encountered great difficulty securing employment comparable to her qualifications.
Influenced by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and her commencement speaker, Mary McLeod Bethune, founder-president of the now-Bethune-Cookman University, Clarke became one of the first black women in Kentucky to enlist during World War II when she signed up for the Bethune-supported all-volunteer Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942.
Clark was the only African-American candidate to finish the 15th Officer Class, WAAC Officer Candidate School Program in February 1943. Because of her reassignment to the Fourth Company, Third Regiment as a platoon leader, Clarke became the first African-American woman assigned to command what was an otherwise all-white army unit.
In February 1944, Clarke led the first WAAC unit onto the base at eastern Arizona’s Douglas Army Air Field where she and several women also successfully protested the enforced segregation of the base’s movie theater.
That same year, Clarke’s life and service were cut short at the age of 24 due to complications following appendicitis surgery.
The keynote speaker for the 2018 Anna Mac Clarke Veterans Recognition Assembly was Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford. Crawford became the Army chief information officer (CIO) in 2017. As the CIO, Crawford advises the Army chief of staff on the network, communications, signal operations, cyber security, force structure and equipping.
Crawford encouraged civilians in the audience to never think it cliché to thank veterans for their service.
“They fought our wars and preserved the peace. They lived uncommon lives,” Crawford said. “Regardless of your branch of service, you set the standard to be a soldier for life.”
During his 32 years of service, Crawford has served in a variety of leadership positions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. His command assignments include the 516th Signal Brigade in Fort Shafter, Hawaii; the 82nd Signal Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, among many others.
Crawford holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from South Carolina State University, a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.