From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

WACs Beaten in Elizabethtown, KY

In 1945, three African American members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) were beaten by police officers for sitting in the waiting room for whites at the Greyhound bus station in Elizabethtown, KY.

One of the women, PFC Helen Smith of Syracuse, NY, was taken to jail and released a few hours later, bleeding from her injuries. PFC Georgia Boson, from Texas, and Pvt. Tommie Smith were also beaten.

The women continued on their return to Fort Knox. When they arrived on base, they were summoned by the commanding officer, then lectured about obeying the supposed segregation laws of Kentucky pertaining to public buildings and transportation.

The women were court-martialed. They were defended by Lieutenant W. Robert Ming, base legal officer at Godman Field under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct.

Helen Smith spent a week in the hospital recovering from her injuries.

For more see Harry McAlpin, "Beat by cops: WACs to stand trial, violated Ky. Jim Crow," Indianapolis Recorder, 8/4/1945, p. 1; "Wac's Beating Case" in The Negro Handbook, 1946-1947, edited by F. Murray; Creating GI Jane, by L. D. Meyer; To Serve My County, To Serve My Raceby B. L. Moore; and "Council demands investigation of WACs' beating," Baltimore Afro-American, 8/11/1945, p. 12.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Hardin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bullitt County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Elizabethtown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fort Knox, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Indianapolis recorder (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Negro handbook 1946-1947
NKAA Source: Creating GI Jane: sexuality and power in the Women's Army Corps during World War II
NKAA Source: To serve my country, to serve my race (book)
NKAA Source: The Afro-American (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  McAlpin, Harry Sylvester

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“WACs Beaten in Elizabethtown, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 20, 2021,

Last modified: 2021-02-26 23:01:38