From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (African American Women Veterans in and from Kentucky)

Morrison, Anna B. Collins

(born: June 6, 1924  -  died: February 22, 2009) 

Military Branch

Women's Army Corps

Active Duty Entered

May 24, 1944

Active Duty Exit

January 12, 1946

Exit Rank

Private First Class

Notes

Anna B. Collins from Richmond, KY was living in Dayton, OH when she enlisted in the Army in Cincinnati, OH, according to her enlistment record in Ancestry and an article in the Dayton Daily News. Her basic training was at Fort Des Moines, IA. When she entered the Army, her maiden name was Collins. She later married a man named Morrison while still in the Army.

Anna Morrison's name is recognized in civil rights history. She was one of four WACs who took on the U.S. Army in 1945 in the fight for better work assignments for African American WACs at the Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens, MA. The four women, Johnnie Murphy from Rankin, PA; Alice Young from Washington, D.C.; Mary Green from Conroe, TX; and Anna Collins Morrison from Richmond, KY; led the work strike that started March 9, 1945. The four refused to go back to work and were court-martialed on March 19, 1945. The next day the women were sentenced to one year of hard labor in prison along with dishonorable discharges. News of the trial and the convictions were carried in a few Kentucky newspapers, including The Courier-Journal, The Owensboro Messenger, The Park City Daily NewsThe Lexington Herald, and the Lexington Leader.

The case of the four Negro WACs was one of the most publicized military trials during World War II. The Black press first covered the strike and later the court-martial and conviction; from there it became a top story in hundreds of mainstream newspapers throughout the United States. After the trial, the Black press, Black women's organizations, and civil rights organizations and leaders responded in force with their support for the four WACs. Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was chosen as the attorney to represent them in their appeal. The women were confined to rooms in the Lovell Hospital during the appeals process.

The appeals worked in the women's favor. On April 2, 1945, their sentences were revoked and they were allowed to return to duty at the Lovell Hospital. Captain Myrtle Anderson was placed in charge of the segregated 4th WAC Company of African American women. The African American WACs continued to be assigned the most menial jobs and did not receive the training promised when they signed up.

At the end of her military career in 1946, Anna Collins Morrison received an honorable discharge and moved back to Richmond. Not finding work there, she moved to Dayton, where she was employed as a nurse's aide. From Dayton, she moved to New York City, where she earned her licensed practical nursing degree (LPN). After almost 30 years in New York, she returned to Richmond, where she died in 2009. Anna Collins Morrison was the daughter of Emma Spillman and Joseph Collins (sources: Kentucky Birth Index in Ancestry; and "Service notes," The Journal Herald, 5/26/1944, p. 14).

Sources: "Widow of sailor enlists in WAC," Dayton Daily News, 5/26/1944, p. 12; Glory in Their Spirit: how four Black women took on the Army during WWII, by Sandra M. Bolzenius; The 1945 Black WAC Strike at Ft. Devens, by Sandra M. Bolzenius (dissertation online at etd.ohiolink.edu); "Four Colored Wacs discharged after hearing," The Park City Daily News, 3/21/1945, p. 7; "Negro Wacs convicted; given year at hard labor," The Boston Globe, 3/21/1945, front page & p. 3; "Four Negro WACs given pen terms," The Owensboro Messenger, 3/22/1945, p. 3; "Four Negro WACs restored to duty," Lexington Herald, 4/4/1945, p. 2; "4 Negro Wacs are restored to duty," Pampa Daily News, 4/6/1945, p. 7; "Four convicted WACs restored to duty by commanding general," The New York Age, 4/7/1945, front page; "The Lynn Committee asks the removal of Col. Crandall in WACs courtmartial case," The New York Age, 5/5/1945, p. 2; and "Black women in WWII deserve remembrance," Sunday Montgomery Advertiser, 11/10/1991, p. 4D.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Madison County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Richmond, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Morrison, Anna B. Collins,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 21, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/index.php/items/show/300004352.

Last modified: 2023-05-17 17:10:51