Glory in Their Spirit: How Four Black Women Took On the Army during World War II is the home-front battle that shook the military. Join veteran, teacher, historian and author Sandra M. Bolzenius, a former instructor at The Ohio State University and transportation specialist in the United States Army, as she discusses this well-written account of little-known yet essential stories of valor and protest.
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 nation’s 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 point—and helped steer one of American’s most powerful institutions onto a new road toward progress and justice.
For nearly twenty years, Sandy Bolzenius lived abroad, serving in the U.S. Army in Germany as a transportation specialist and teaching in international schools in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In-between overseas travels, she returned to The Ohio State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Education and her doctorate in History. Sandy’s focus on gender and African American history culminated in the publication of her book, Glory in Their Spirit: How Four Black Women Took on the Army during World War II (University of Illinois Press, 2018).
Sandy is a member of Move to Amend and is active in the Community Bill of Rights efforts to protect Central Ohio’s natural resources. Her occupations, travels, research, and activism reflect her interest in the dynamics of gender, race, class, and public policies.