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0:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Mary Francis Clark at her residence in Louisville, Kentucky

Segment Synopsis: Mike Jones is interviewing Mary Clark. Clark was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Clark talks about the schools she attended.

Subjects: Childhood; Early life; Education; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Shelbyville (Ky.)

1:00 - Deciding to join the military

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Partial Transcript: At this point, had you- what did you know about the military?

Segment Synopsis: Clark did not have any family members that were in the military. After high school, Clark attended Central State University where she got a BA in dietetics and interned at a hospital in Dayton for a year. Afterwards, she went to intern at a hospital in Chicago, where she met a dietician who was serving in the military. Since Clark was considering a job change at the time, she became interested in joining the military after talking to the dietician. Clark then decided to join the Air Force and had officer training in Alabama. Since she was already trained in dietetics, she was able to start more quickly without very much additional training. Her first assignment was in Oklahoma.

Keywords: Internship and Residency; Internships; Officer Training; University

Subjects: Alabama; Central State University (Wilberforce, Ohio); Chicago (Ill.); Dayton (Ohio); Dieticians; Hospital administration; Hospitals; Oklahoma; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

4:20 - Civil rights and racism in the military

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Partial Transcript: Now, what were your first impressions of the military

Segment Synopsis: Clark was very excited to join the military. Since she was in Alabama and the Civil Rights Movement was happening at the time, she tried to stay on base as much as possible for her own safety. Many of her white counterparts did not understand Clark's hesitation at going off base. Clark was initially stationed at a base in Oklahoma for two years (from 1965 to 1967) and was then transferred to a base in Massachusetts. While living in Massachusetts, Clark says she still encountered prejudice, but experienced much less racism compared to what she had experienced in Southern states. The military was predominately white, so much so that in many cases, Clark was the only African American senior ranking officer, with very few African American female officers in the Air Force at the time.

Keywords: Black officers; Whites

Subjects: African Americans; Alabama; Blacks; Civil rights; Civil Rights Movement; Dieticians; Discrimination; Massachusetts; Nineteen sixties; Oklahoma; Prejudice; Race; Racism; Safety; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

9:23 - Family / education and adversity

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Partial Transcript: What about when you came home? How did your family react?

Segment Synopsis: Although he was resistant at first, Clark's father was very impressed with her joining the military. Clark was stationed at the Westover Air Reserve Base near Springfield, Massachusetts from 1966-1970. Then, she went to Michigan State University from 1970-1971 where she got her Masters degree while on active duty and the military paid her tuition. Then, she moved back to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Illinois where she had more responsibilities. This was a bad experience for Clark because there was a female dietician who constantly degraded her and tried to get her to quit the military.

Keywords: Masters degree; Scott Air Force Base; Westover Air Reserve Base

Subjects: African Americans; Blacks; Chicopee (Mass.); Dieticians; Discrimination; Education; Father; Harassment; Illinois; Massachusetts; Michigan State University; Prejudice; Racism; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

14:28 - Service in Japan / adjusting to Japanese culture

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Partial Transcript: Now, let's talk a little bit about your impressions of Japan

Segment Synopsis: Japan was a big change in environment for Clark, especially the poverty she encountered. Clark was there from 1973-1975 and traveled all around Japan. She had to adapt to the culture, but she could always find somebody that spoke English. Clark was a senior captain during this time.

Keywords: Captains; Tachikawa Airfield; Tachikawa, Japan

Subjects: Cross cultural communication; Culture; English; Japan; Japanese; Nineteen seventies; Poverty; Tokyo (Japan); Travel; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

17:43 - Racial quotas for Air Force officers / Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go from Japan?

Segment Synopsis: Clark was stationed at the Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane from 1975 to 1976. Clark lived off base and always made an effort to explore her surroundings. Clark remembers that every base had very few Black ranking officers. There were times when a Black officer would lose their rank because a racial quota on the number of Black officers had been set. Clark was at Fairchild when American involvement in the Vietnam War was at its peak. Clark herself was not deployed to Vietnam, but many of her staff were sent to fight in the war. Clark struggled to maintain the base after many of her staff were deployed to Vietnam.

Keywords: Black officers; Explore; Quotas in employment; Ranking officers

Subjects: African Americans; Blacks; Culture; Discrimination; Fairchild Air Force Base (Wash.); Prejudice; Racism; Spokane (Wash.); Staff; United States. Air Force; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington; Women veterans

22:09 - Promotion to Major / experiences of racism in the South

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go next?

Segment Synopsis: After Washington, Clark served at the Tyndall Air Force Base from 1976 to 1979. While at Tyndall, Clark was promoted to major, which caused resentment in other majors at the base. In the military, it is customary for officers to salute their rank. Clark says that many white officers would not salute her unless she told them to. Afterwards, she was sent to Louisiana from 1979 to 1983. When she went to the South this time, she was less conscious of the prejudices in her environment. The military would often indirectly make non-white soldiers aware of hostile or unsafe areas due to racism.

Keywords: Rank; The South

Subjects: African Americans; Blacks; Discrimination; Florida; Louisiana; Panama City (Fla.); Prejudice; Race; Racism; Resentment; Safety; Soldiers; Tyndall Air Force Base (Fla.); United States. Air Force; Women veterans

25:46 - Protecting others / power struggles with other officers

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Partial Transcript: So, at this point you were a major?

Segment Synopsis: With additional responsibilities, Clark had to conduct investigations and new protocols to follow. She had to conduct an investigation on another female Black officer and made sure to write the report in order to protect her status and career. Clark almost always worked alone and was often the only black senior officer. At the beginning, Clark was very wary of committing to a career in the military. Regardless of the base Clark went to, she always experienced a power struggle. Next, Clark was sent to a base in Alaska. Since it was so far away from the rest of the U.S., many military personnel considered it to be an overseas assignment.

Keywords: Black officers; Protocols; Support

Subjects: African Americans; Alaska; Blacks; Discrimination; Investigations; Prejudice; Racism; Respect; Responsibility; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

30:49 - Retirement / hurricane

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Partial Transcript: What were your - you were getting close to retirement - what were your thoughts?

Segment Synopsis: In Alaska, Clark was very burnt out to the point that she stopped doing everything that she was told. Clark was in Alaska from 1985-1988 and was subsequently transferred to Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami and stayed for four years. Clark was in Miami when Hurricane Andrew hit in August of 1992 and Homestead suffered considerable damage from the hurricane. Military personnel stationed at Homestead were eligible to choose a different base because of the damage caused by the hurricane. Clark chose a base in New Jersey and worked in consulting for a year. The hurricane was very traumatizing and made Clark value life more. The military had given personnel members at Homestead information on how to prepare for a hurricane and Clark still struggled despite following all of the disaster preparation advice of the military.

Keywords: Burnout, Professional

Subjects: African Americans; Blacks; Hurricane Andrew, 1992; Hurricanes; Miami (Fla.); Natural disasters; New Jersey; Retirement; Trauma; United States. Air Force; Women veterans

36:10 - After retirement / reflections on Air Force career

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Partial Transcript: Ok, so, you went to the base of your choice and then you were discharged?

Segment Synopsis: When she was ready to settle down, Clark's first preference was to move to the East Coast but later decided to come back to Kentucky instead. Clark wonders if she made the wrong decision because she feels like she has outgrown Louisville. Her family still sees her as who she was before she left. Going back to civilian life was very difficult for Clark, even with military transition training. One issue she faced was how much more directly people speak in the military. She tried working some jobs very different from the military, but realized that she did not enjoy working. Clark explains why she thinks that the Air Force is a good career.

Keywords: Civilian life; East Coast; Family; Transition

Subjects: African Americans; Air Force Academy (U.S.); Blacks; Careers; Growth; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Retirement; United States. Air Force; Women veterans; Work

40:29 - Advice for African Americans / closing comments

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Partial Transcript: As an African American, do you think

Segment Synopsis: Clark says there is still racism in the Air Force. Clark also believes that to be in the military, you need support and a mentor. Clarks adds that African Americans will need to work harder than their non-Black counterparts to make rank. Despite the struggles and racism she faced, Clark is proud of being a veteran and has deep patriotism.

Keywords: Mentors; Rankings; Support

Subjects: African Americans; Americans; Blacks; Discrimination; Hierarchy; Military; Patriotism; Power; Prejudice; Racism; United States; United States. Air Force; Veterans; Women veterans