With Henry’s death, the educational community lost a talented and popular teacher, the African American community lost a respected leader, and our country lost a valiant serviceman. His sacrifice deserves to be remembered. I have devoted a chapter to this chalkboard champion in the book I am currently writing, tentatively entitled Chalkboard Heroes.
As our nation pauses this Memorial Day to honor our men and women in uniform, we must recognize that many of our chalkboard champions have served not only in the classroom, but also in our county’s military. One such hero is Henry Alvin Cameron, an African American schoolteacher who served as an officer in the United States Army during World War I. Henry taught science and coached basketball at Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee. At the age of 45, well past the usual age of enlistment, Henry answered the call for African Americans to serve as officers in all-black regiments that were deployed to Europe. Henry served in France and, tragically, was killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest just days before the war ended.