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BlackHistoryMonth002 STOCK

ClydeMcQueenBy Emily Banks Wooten
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(Editor’s Note: This is the third of a multi-part series celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the service, contributions and achievements of some of Polk County’s finest.)

Clyde McQueen (Aug. 24, 1926-May 13, 2020) was born in the Lily Island community near Camden, the firstborn of the union between William and Letisha McQueen.

Clyde dropped out of high school after the ninth grade to go to work as a laborer. A year later when he approached draft age in 1944, Clyde joined the Navy as an apprentice seaman and served during WWII, 1944-1946. Clyde received a promotion to seaman second class to attend the naval technical academy but was denied entrance because he did not have a high school diploma. That was the last time he missed out on an opportunity because he did not have the proper degree. After being honorably discharged, he rejoined his family and enrolled in high school at Dunbar High School, graduating with a diploma in 1947 at the age of 21.

After completing his high school diploma, Clyde enrolled in Prairie View University and the ROTC. Within three years, in 1950, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, making him the first male in his family to earn a college degree.

During his senior year, he met Constance Trim who became his wife on Nov. 18, 1950. Soon after Clyde and Connie married, he departed for active duty in the Korea War until 1952. During that time, he experienced 16 months of active duty, 90 days of frontline duty, promotion to first lieutenant; and received a Combat Infantry Badge and battle star.

Clyde’s educational pursuits did not end with his bachelor’s degree. He later earned a master’s degree in education with a minor in Economics from Prairie View in 1957 and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Texas A&M University in 1970.

Clyde enjoyed 58 years of marital bliss until the passing of his wife, Connie, in 2008. They had two sons, Clyde Renard and Bruce Elliott. Clyde was a devoted husband, father and dutiful provider for his family. His military training and education afforded him employment opportunities to provide comfortably for his family. Clyde excelled in his careers as an Air Force technical instructor, soil conservationist, certified urban planner, and policy analyst with the National Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture earning promotions and service awards.

After retirement from his civil service career, Clyde pursued an interest that developed while working with Black farmers to develop their farmland. Clyde became curious about the many Black churches he saw in communities that dated back to the mid-1860s. He began a 10-year study of Black churches and the histories of “folk-built” worship houses and congregations. Once completed, he had visited 375 churches and traveled 90,000 miles to catalog their growth and development. His book, Black Churches in Texas, A Guide to Historical Congregations, was published by Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas on April 20, 2000. This effort became a spiritual journey for him, with its conclusion being a source of tremendous joy and pride.

In 2009, Clyde published his second book, The Black Army Officer, the Untold Story, from 1947 to 1999, chronicling President Harry S. Truman’s signed Executive Order 9981 that abolished racial segregation in the Armed Forces of the United States of America in 1948. The book documents this historic event and its impact on young black male college students who attended Prairie View A&M University and were commissioned Second Lieutenants from 1947-to-1999.

Clyde was forever grateful for and proud of his cumulative military service. It was his WWII and Korean War service that enabled him to obtain GI benefits to complete high school, college and graduate schools.

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