Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

December 2, 1933

On December 2, 1933, the Baltimore Afro-American published the bronze star commendation of Rufus B. Atwood as part of a “Heroes of the World War” series. Written by Colonel Allan Greer, the brief piece praised Atwood, a member of the signal corps, for operating a switchboard under heavy enemy fire in Pont-a-Moussen, France. “When the ammunition dump began to explode...[Atwood] remained on the job, tapping new connections,” Greer noted. “Sergeant Atwood was left alone, and he established a switchboard and the same connections they had at first. The coolness with which he went about his work and the initiative he took in handling the situation justifies his being mentioned in orders.” After the war, Atwood returned to Fisk University to complete his bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to become the president of Kentucky State University for Colored Persons in 1929, when he was only thirty-two years old.

Several of the Afro-American’s “Heroes of the World War” articles reference Emmett Scott’s The American Negro in the World War (1919), which has been digitized by the Internet Archive: 


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