Eclipse Magazine - Produced by NABVETS 2015 First Edition - Page 14
FRONT AND CENTER:
MG Linda Singh
Maryland National Guard
First Female Commander
By Rick Lane, NABVETS-Baltimore
“Towards a more perfect union,” is often used to cite the role of African-American Veterans in pursuit of “institutional” change
in America. In Maryland, the National Association for Black Veterans, Inc. (NABVETS) has progressively moved to implement
its vision of Americanism. Disdaining the critics but recognizing their importance in articulating issues, NABVETS, later
joined by others, participated in the dramatic crumbling of systemic subjugation in targeted areas of Maryland’s government
and society—in particular the Maryland National Guard, the monolithic giant of the status quo.
African American History Month 2015 will be remembered for record breaking cold and snow by most, but here in Maryland,
the final blow against the infamous “good old boy” network of the Maryland National Guard will live forever in the hearts and
minds of patriotic Marylanders as the day when Major General Linda Singh accepted command from Major General James
In 1985, several veterans in the Maryland General Assembly asked freshman delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis, a leading
member of the local chapter of NABVETS, to investigate and report on discrimination and disparity within the Maryland
National Guard. Senator Clarence Blount, a WWII hero; Senator Decatur Trotter, Korean War Veteran; Delegate John Jeffries,
Montford Point Marine and WWII Veteran; and Delegate Richard Dixon, Vietnam Veteran; promised their support to Davis
should he accept the task.
Up to this point there had been little or no interaction between the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the Maryland
National Guard despite numerous complaints of unfair and unequal treatment. It appeared
the primary interest of legislators was focused in other areas and what occurred in
the Maryland National Guard was very low or nonexistent on the list of priorities.
Change would be difficult but the necessity for engagement was paramount.
Delegate Davis, Commander Ronald Hutchins, Baltimore Metro Area Chapter
of NABVETS and its Secretary-Treasurer, Lee A. Brown, contacted the
Adjutant General’s Office where they encountered BG James Fretterd who
would eventually become the Adjutant General serving from 1987 through
2003. Preliminary discussions centered on the issue of enlisted personnel
who were stuck in the middle ranks of sergeants and trapped in a system of
institutional stagnation. Fretterd was slow to respond until his appointment
to Adjutant General by newly elected Governor, William Donald Schaefer,
and his approval by the Maryland Senate.
Meeting with Davis, Hutchins and Brown shortly thereafter, Fretterd promised
that the Guard would reflect the population of Maryland and all guardsmen would be
NABVETS Eclipse Magazine
2015 First Edition