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95th Engineer Battalion Unit: Key Force in Building The Alaska/Canada Highway

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

95th Engineer Battalion - Public Domain Image
95th Engineer Battalion – Public Domain Image

95th Engineer Army Battalion Unit: Major Force in Building The Alaska/Canada Highway

The African American 95th Engineer Army Battalion unit was formed in April 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia initially in preparation for World War II. The unit was sent to Alaska and Canada in 1942 to assist with building the Alcan (Alaska/Canada) Highway. The need for the highway was identified in the 1930’s but World War II was the catalyst that started construction. The construction process was compared to building the Panama Canal. The 95th Engineers joined forces with two other back units already working in Alaska as well as 4 white units. All the unit was almost exclusively African American the officers were white. The unit was no stranger to discrimination while working on the project. They were discouraged from interacting with local towns people and their unit accomplishments were largely ignored by the press. Despite the challenges, the 95th Engineers developed a reputation for excellence. The unit was noted in particular for their skill in bridge building. The unit completed the construction project a year ahead of schedule in 1943.

Geraldine Bledsoe Ford: 1st African American Woman To Be Elected As A Judge

Black Mail:  Special Delivery!!

Born in 1928, Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford was the first African-American to be elected as a judge in the United States.  She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  In 1966, she scored a surprising upset victory to become a judge on the Detroit Recorders Court.  Ford’s qualifications swept the election and she led the ticket repeatedly for the following 33 years. After a court reorganization, she served another year as a Circuit Court Judge, before retiring in 1999.

She spent much of her career hearing criminal cases.  On the bench she was known as “Mean Geraldine” to unprepared attorneys and those to whom she issued tough prison sentences.  However, Judge Ford also had a softer side; serving as a mentor to many aspiring lawyers.  Her daughter, Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford also served as a judge in Detroit as well.

Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford died in 2003.

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