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THE BOY WHO WASN'T SURE:
Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr.

Youn Ben Davis was unhappey at the University of Chicago. Not that thh university wasn't fine one, of course, and not that the boy was unable to cope with the mathematics and science courses in which he was enrolled – it was neither of these. And it was not that Ben lacked friends and pleasant associations. Of course he had a great many of them in Chicago. Something much different troubled this sophomore. something deeper – something inside himself. Ben was unhappy because he was puzzled. The time had come for him to decide what he would make of himself as a man, and Benwas stumped. He couldn't answer.

To some the question may sound easy, but to young Ben it was more than a notion. It meant more than just turning a few ossibilities over in his head and selecting one. To him the question was more like a complicated algebraic statement with odd factors and strange combinations on each side of the equation. And while the problem remained unsolved, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., felt troubled in mind. He couldn't work up much interest in anything else.

Ben Davis had been born in Washington DC on December 18, 1912. A few months before his eighth birthday his parents had carried him to Alabama where his father, then a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, had been assigned professor of military science and tactics at Tuskegee Institute, the well known industrial and vocational school. Four years later the family made another move, thistime to Cleveland, his father having been made an instructor of infantry in the Ohio National Guard. In the six years that followedBen completed elementary school, graduated from Central High, did his Freshman year at Western Reserve and grew into as lith and straight of figure as any six foot four inch giant on any campus anywhere.

Then came Chicago and the year of indecision. What would he be? What [[underlined]]could[[/underlined]] he be?

Well, to answer the last one first, he could have been a doctor, a dentist, a teacher, a lawyer, a preacher – that last one made Ben smile. Nobody would ever put any wings on his shoulders, he sometimes said laughingly. He was no angels, and he felt quite sure he wasnSt cut out for a pupit. Neither was he inclined toward medicine or dentistry, law or the teaching profession. All of these were good and honorable goals at which to aspire, but somehow Ben Davis felt that they were not for him. His own mind ran toward –

But was the use of saying it? The Army offered no future to a colored boy, not even to one with the commanding dignity, the easy poise, the bright mind of young Ben. Everybody knew that and the Davis family better than anybody. There were a couple of regiments of colored cavalry, of course, the old
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