Anna Mac Clarke, College and Beyond
At Kentucky State and On Her Own
By John M. Trowbridge
Copyright 1997. John M. Trowbridge
Anna entered Kentucky State College in the latter part of 1937. The campus was located just down the road from Lawrenceburg in Frankfort. She adjusted well to student life and spent the next four years living on campus at Chandler Hall. Betty "Ma" White was the housemother of Chandler Hall, and Anna Mac was soon to become her assistant. She did administrative work in the office of the Dean of Women, Ann Heartwell Hunter. Anna Mac became a staff member of the school's news- paper, The Kentucky Thorobred. In December 1939, she became a member of the Alpha Pi Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Anna Mac still had her love of sports and was involved in intramural athletics, in which she won a medal. In September 1940, she became a charter member of the Tik (Pep) Club which had been established by Mr. M. A. Melton Jr. and Ms. Jane Ryder, Kentucky State faculty members. The club's purpose was to develop a better school spirit on the school's campus. During her four years at Kentucky State, Anna Mac developed strong friendships, and some of those people would correspond with her during her military career. Some of her closest friends and classmates at Kentucky State would go on to achieve prominence in the fight for civil rights and high level government positions, including Whitney Young Jr., social worker, educator and executive director of the National Urban League, and Ersa Hines Poston, president of the New York State Civil Service Commission. But for now the graduating class of 1941 would have a greater task in front of them: for the winds of a world loomed on the horizon and would eventually engulf many of Anna's classmates.
At 10:30 in the morning of June 10, 1941, Anna eighty-seven other seniors of the fifty-third graduating class from Kentucky State College received their diplomas. Dr. Rufus Ballard Atwood, president of the college, presided over the commencement ceremony. The governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Honorable Keen Johnson, was in attendance.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune delivered the commencement address to the eighty-eight graduating seniors of the Class of '41 and their families. Mrs. Bethune was a famous educator who through her endless endeavors in educating young African Americans established Bethune-Cookman College. She was currently the Director, Division of Negro Affairs, National Youth Ad- ministration in Washington, D.C. Mary McLeod Bethune would come to play a larger role in Anna Mac's life military.
Anna received her Bachelor's Degree in sociology and economics along with a Certificate of Sunday Training School.
With her newly earned degree in hand, Anna returned to Lawrenceburg, and disappointment. She was unable to find a good job. In Kentucky, as in other parts of the country, in the 1940s, racism-legal and de facto-was a way of life. Highly educated black men and women received few good paying jobs. Blacks were normally hired for low skill, low pay jobs, such as cooks, housecleaners, or nursemaids for the children of white families. Anna knew she had worked hard to get education and wanted no part of the black female status quo.
In 1941 Anna took a summer job with the Girl Scouts of America at Bear Mountain, in New York state. She worked as activities director and counselor.
Following the summertime job, Anna moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the hope of finding a better paying and more rewarding career. She moved to 1303 Burdett Avenue, home of family friends, the Lovelace family. In the fall of 1941 when she got a job at the Nash House Community Center as the recreation director, things were beginning to look up. But Anna Mac was still not satisfied and wanted more out of life.