Cover for BOLZENIUS: Glory in Their Spirit: How Four Black Women Took On the Army during World War II. Click for larger image

Glory in Their Spirit

How Four Black Women Took On the Army during World War II

The home-front battle that shook the military

Before Rosa Parks and the March on Washington, four African American women risked their careers and freedom to defy the United States Army over segregation. Women Army Corps (WAC) privates Mary Green, Anna Morrison, Johnnie Murphy, and Alice Young enlisted to serve their country, improve their lives, and claim the privileges of citizenship long denied them. Promised a chance at training and skilled positions, they saw white WACs assigned to those better jobs and found themselves relegated to work as orderlies. In 1945, their strike alongside fifty other WACs captured the nationís attention and ignited passionate debates on racism, women in the military, and patriotism.

Glory in Their Spirit presents the powerful story of their persistence and the public uproar that ensued. Newspapers chose sides. Civil rights activists coalesced to wield a new power. The military, meanwhile, found itself increasingly unable to justify its policies. In the end, Green, Morrison, Murphy, and Young chose court-martial over a return to menial duties. But their courage pushed the segregated military to the breaking pointóand helped steer one of Americanís most powerful institutions onto a new road toward progress and justice.

"Black men and Black women integrated the military as officers and as enlisted in different ways. This is the important and untold story of Black enlisted women and the unexpected way their integration occurred."--Judith Hicks Stiehm, editor of It's Our Military, Too: Women and the U.S. Military

"Interesting, well-written, and accessible. Sandra Bolzenius unearths a treasure trove of rich, relevant primary source archival materials that highlight the lesser-known experiences of black women in addition to speaking to the uniqueness of the military as a venue for the redress, and suppression, of rights."--Elizabeth R. Escobedo, author of From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front


Sandra M. Bolzenius is a former instructor at The Ohio State University and served as a transportation specialist in the United States Army.

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