Friday, May 20, 2011

Matthew Bullock '04

In 1900, a young man arrived at Dartmouth College carrying only one suitcase and $50 dollars. Matthew Washington Bullock, the son of slaves, became a star athlete at Dartmouth, playing on four varsity football and track teams. In addition to his athletic prowess he had a love of music and sang in several glee clubs as well. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1904 and headed to Harvard Law School from which he graduated in 1907. Over the next ten years he taught economics and sociology at Morehouse College, became the Dean of the Alabama State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, and practiced law in Atlanta. Wanting to serve his country during WW I Matt tried to enlist in 1917, but was rejected because of what was then called an "athletic heart." Never one to give up, he joined the war effort of the YMCA and served fifteen months in France. At the end of the war he was one of the workers selected to represent the organization at the Burial of the Unknown Soldier.

After the war Matt returned to Boston where he continued to practice law and was very active in civic affairs. In 1927 Governor Fuller appointed him to the State Board of Parole and the Advisory Board of Pardons. According to a report in his alumni file Matt always gave first thought to the welfare and safety of the public when dealing with the cases of prisoners being considered for parole. One story tells of the occasion when an application for parole was turned down and the rejected applicant, in seeing Matt, became so furious that he started to rush directly towards him. The applicant, however, was not aware that Matt had received very good instruction on the gridiron at Hanover on how to deal with human beings who came rushing towards him, and the prisoner, very surprisingly, found himself pinned to the floor in about one second flat and remained firmly pinned until the guards came and took him away.

Among his many achievements, the one that Matt was most proud of came in the waning days of WWII, when, in 1945, he was asked by Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, to join a commission of six men who where appointed to investigate conditions between black and white enlisted men in the Pacific theatre. The assignment resulted in a report that began the process of racial integration of naval personnel.

Ask for MS 1153 to see more photos of Matt or for his Alumni File to read more about him.

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2 comments:

  1. I love this blog! Regretfully, I never got around to exploring Rauner's treasures as an undergrad. The regret increases with each post!

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  2. Did you know that Matt Bullock coached Everett High School to a State Championship in 1899? Back then the teams would elect a Captain who would serve as coach of the football team.

    Michael Matarazzo
    Everett City Clerk

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