1 A Corner of the War Information Library
A Corner of the War Information Library, undated
2

Students and the AUC Response to War

During the Civil War, African American soldiers established the link between military service and the “communal pursuit of literacy in the black community as a way to empower African Americans in their claim for citizenship rights,” (Cox, 2013). In this vein, during Reconstruction, 60 HBCUs were established throughout the South, with their faculty and staff consisting primarily of former black soldiers and officers. The war effort figured in greatly in the early years of the schools of the Atlanta University Center. During World War I, Morehouse president, John Hope believed “black social progress rested on the ability of African Americans to continuously demonstrate their patriotism through unqualified support of the war” (Cox, 2013). To this end, Morehouse sponsored activities including the purchase of war bonds, promotion of campaigns to support serving soldiers, and using African American support for the war to advance the political fight for equal rights at home.

3

While early war efforts were inextricably linked to the campaign for equality, the era following World War II saw an increase in dissent from the African American community. The conflict in Vietnam, in particular, energized students across the country to protest the war. Students at Atlanta University Center schools began speaking out on what they saw to be an unequal distribution of wartime burden on the African American community, with a disproportionate number of African Americans serving in the military during Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War.

4 Spelman Messenger February 1933 vol. 49 no. 2
A Corner of the War Information Library, undated
5

AUC at War

After the passage of the Selective Service Act in 1917, the United States Army looked to educational institutions to help prepare for war. Soon after, a military educational and vocational training program was established at Atlanta University. Students enlisted to gain skills as blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and truck operators for the Armed Forces. With the popularity of the program, and the continued segregation of America’s military, it wasn’t long before a U.S. Army Training Facility was constructed at Atlanta University and the Students Army Training Corps (the precursor to the ROTC) was established.

Atlanta University Notes, Atlanta University 1918 September 17 Edward Twitchell Ware Records, 1888-1929 - AU Presidential Records
Atlanta University Notes
Atlanta University
1918
September 17 Edward Twitchell Ware Records, 1888-1929 - AU Presidential Records
"War Time Activities", The Story of Spelman College
Read, Florence Matilda
1961
ARC Book Collection
6 U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction U.S. Army Training Facility - Construction

Construction of Military Training
Facility at AUC

Construction of Military Training Facility at AUC

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Student Response

What would you do if a draft notice was sent to your dorm requiring you to join the military and fight in combat? Would you refuse Army induction like Muhammad Ali in 1967 during the Vietnam War or would you “Come Out Fighting” like the African-American soldiers in the 761st Tank Battalion, who were one of the most effective tank battalions in World War II?

These and many others were questions AUC students faced during the tumultuous wartimes of their country. Many fought in numerous battles and helped in war efforts by buying war bonds or knitting gloves, mitts, scarves and socks for soldiers. While others like Morehouse student and veteran, Joseph L. Wallace protested and pointed out the hypocrisy of “a country that proclaims equal rights for all men,” but “continues to deny equality to blacks while ordering them to fight and die in a foreign county for the same rights they cannot obtain at home.”

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Throughout the span of the AUC’s history student responses to war have varied from enthusiastic involvement to adamant denouncement, these diverse reactions and stories reveal the impact of war not only on men and women in uniform but on the larger African American community.

9

Coverage of the Persian Gulf War in the AUC Digest

Click on the article to open the gallery.

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Impact and Expectations After War

Military - WWI Training, Atlanta University undated Atlanta University photograph collection
Military - WWI Training
Atlanta University
undated
Atlanta University photograph collection

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