Hannibal’s Black Soldiers

African Americans have shown their patriotism many times over in the military service they provided the nation. Since the founding of the republic, African Americans have served in every US conflict/war, often fighting two battles--one against a common enemy and a second against segregation and discrimination in and out of the military.

Special Sargent Emory Kelley, U.S. Army - 1942

The Clarence Woodson Post 155

Clarence Woodson, born in Hannibal to Amanda and Roberta Woodson, attended Douglass School and lived at 2511 Hope Street. He was working at the Hannibal Wheel Factory when he joined the Army in 1917. Serving in World War I, Woodson tragically died during the last battle in France on November 11, 1918. His body was never returned home, as he was buried in France.

The local black community drew together to honor his memory and on September 16, 1919, organized the Clarence Woodson American Legion Post 155 with twenty-four members. The Post had its first meeting at Douglass School. Maceo Wilson was elected Commander, Ollie Slayton Vice Commander, and Willard Hughes Adjunct.

Pictured are, from left, Lealand Perkins, Estel Griggsby, Albert Fountain, Louis Bright, Walter Sutton, Ora Hart, and Maceo Wilson.

Estel Griggsby

Estel Griggsby, the son of Major Alexander Griggsby, Sr. and Bertha Hale Griggsby, served honorably in World War II. After joining the U.S. Navy in 1944, he was stationed in Hawaii for eighteen months.

On May 25, 2012, Griggsby celebrated his one-hundredth birthday. One of Missouri’s oldest citizens, he also has the honor of being the oldest World War II veteran to participate in the Honor Flight to Washington D.C. He was 99 at the time.

Donald L. Scott, Brigadier General (Retired)

First Lincoln University graduate to attain the rank of Brigadier General.

Born February 8, 1938 in Hunnewell, Missouri, the youngest of seven children, Donald L. Scott attended the local segregated Douglass School. General Scott excelled in ROTC where he earned the rank of Cadet Colonel and graduated from Lincoln University in 1960 with a BA degree in Graphic Arts.

During his thirty year military career, Scott distinguished himself at every organizational level. Scott is the recipient of many military awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Donald Scott's aspirations for a career in the army were modest, but he rose steadily in the ranks to become a Brigadier General. He has also had an illustrious career since his 1991 retirement from the military.

First Lincoln University graduate to attain the rank of Brigadier General.

George Deason took this July 1985 photo of the Clarence Woodson American Legion Post 155 color guard marching in the annual Fourth of July parade.