Anna Mac Clarke, Foreword
by James C. Klotter, State Historian
Anna Mac Clarke was a remarkable woman and her life richly deserves remembrance. Not one of the famous people whose names rolled off every tongue she achieved in her own way, in her own style, and in achieving became a model for others and a hero for us all.
Appropriately, she was born into a community that had not so long before been on the first frontier that was early Kentucky. Clarke came to maturity at a time when new opportunities and frontiers were unfolding, both for those of her sex and race. But it would not be easy. Growing up in a segregated society that proclaimed her part of a second-class citizenry, she never acquiesced in that status. Neither did she accept the views of those who said women could not be equal participants in American life. For her opposition was simply opportunity; like the early Kentuckians she too blazed new paths in a new frontier.
It took courage to enter the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) when she did, and it required perseverance and hard work to succeed in that world. But she did, becoming the first African American WAAC to command white troops. Clarke also found that while she trained to help fight the enemy overseas, she also had to contend with the struggle against racism in her own society. She led a successful fight at the local base to end camp segregation. However, that was but one battle in a continuing war against racism. The final victory over segregation in the armed forces came only after her tragic early death. But her efforts had made that victory easier, just as her life and example made it easier for others to follow in her footsteps. Her memory yet lights the way for us all.