A Soldier's Story: Major Vertner Woodson Tandy

Major Vertner Woodson Tandy was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 17, 1885. He initially began college at the Tuskegee Institute but later transferred to Cornell University, where he became one of the founding members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

After graduating from Cornell in 1907, Major Vertner Tandy became the first registered architect of African descent in New York State. He is most known for his design of Harlem's Villa Lewaro.

Major Vertner Tandy also volunteered for the New York National Guard and was assigned to the 15th Infantry. He became the first soldier of African descent to pass the U.S. Army's Officer Commission test. When the 15th Infantry deployed to France and the 369th Infantry (The Harlem Hellfighters) for World War I, Major Tandy was assigned command of the depot battalion in New York.

Major Vertner Tandy continued to act as a champion for civil rights and equality throughout his life, dying on November 7, 1949.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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