An important dimension of the Howard University campus during the war period was the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). The unit at Howard was established after World War I and since then had trained 440 men for military service29. During the present war crisis, steps were taken to improve the program. A compulsory Red Cross First Aid course was added to the program, thus increasing the first two years commitment from three to five days per week. The amount of academic credit allowed toward ROTC degrees was raised from a maximum of four to fifteen semester hours (this was especially designed to increase the enrollment in advanced ROTC courses)30. The University also made improvements to help accelerate the educational process so that those who were going to be drafted could hopefully leave with their degrees in hand. The steps taken were (1) the elimination of holidays to shorten the academic calendar; (2) shifting from the semester to the quarter system (effective in fall 1942) and offering summer sessions to make it possible for students to graduate in three years; and (3) special examinations for students to enter the army with degrees that would help them qualify for higher levels of service31. The ROTC program at Howard offered to the United States military hundreds of male students to fight in the war….

     The effect that the war had on the campus was momentous. In the words of one woman from Howard, "Everyone was touched by the war in some way."48  Student and university life would no longer be the same as hundreds of men bade farewell to the campus and as the number-one priority of the school became the participation in the war effort.

     Indicative of the attention paid to the war by the school is a glance at the "Howard University Weekly Calendar," beginning in the spring of 1942 and continuing throughout the duration of the war. The calendar broadcast events, speakers, and programs related to the war. Some of the events were an address by Walter White of the NAACP on a "Program for Negro Americans in the Present War," held on Tuesday, March 24, 1942; a patriotic University Assembly on December 8th of that year for the presentation of a service flag honoring Howard members of the armed forces; an exhibit entitled "The Negro: Touchstone of American Democracy," held during the week of May 3 to June 5, 1943; a display of war information by Lt. Ina McFadden of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on Wednesday, December 2, 1943; an exhibit honoring Blacks for whom ships were named during the war in May and June of 1945; and many other programs, including counseling services for returning veterans.


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November 2000