Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Oral History of an African American JAG (1943-46)

We recently noticed Major Dan Dalrymple’s An Extraordinary Life Span: A Summary and Analysis of an Oral History of the Honorable William A. McClain, United States Army (1943-1946), which appeared in the Military Law Review 218 (2013): 196-227.  (The link is to the entire issue.)  Cribbing from the introduction:
William A. McClain (Credit: CHLA)
William A. McClain was a World War II era African American Judge Advocate.  While his longevity in years is noteworthy by itself, more so is the scope of his achievements and the constellation of personal connections he forged.  Born into poverty in the Jim Crow South, he rose to become an accomplished orator, lawyer, judge advocate, city solicitor, state court judge, and leader in the civil rights movement.  Along the way, he broke down racial barriers, often with the help of white teachers and colleagues, as well as the personal involvement of a governor, senator, and future Supreme Court Justice.  Many of his professional accomplishments occurred in the City of Cincinnati, a conservative bastion, and hotbed for racial unrest.

This article is a summary and analysis of interviews conducted with the Honorable William A. McClain in 1999 and 2003, interviews later transcribed and bound in An Oral History of William A. McClain, which is maintained at the Library of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Judge McClain’s papers are at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.