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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 News, The 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.
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Cited in this Entry
|NKAA Entry: Anderson, Myrtle E.|
|NKAA Source: Dayton daily news (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)|
|NKAA Source: The Journal herald (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: Glory in their spirit : how four Black women took on the Army during WWII|
|NKAA Source: The 1945 Black WAC strike at Ft. Devens (dissertation)|
|NKAA Source: Park city daily news (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: The Boston globe (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: The Owensboro messenger (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: The New York age (newspaper)|
|NKAA Source: The Montgomery advertiser (newspaper)|
Related Entries Citing this Entry
Cite This NKAA Entry:
“Morrison, Anna B. Collins,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 27, 2023, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/300004352.
Last modified: 2023-05-17 17:10:51