2nd Lieutenant Victor L. Ransom, ca. 1942
Victor "Vic" Llewellyn Ransom '42 was born in New York City to a schoolteacher and a writer, both of whom were part of the Harlem Renaissance. Chasing after top schools for Ransom, the family moved 16 times before he turned 16. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, a magnet public school known for its rigorous math and science curriculum. By senior year, Ransom had already set his sights on studying electrical engineering at MIT.
At the Institute
Ransom's memories of his arrival to the Institute in 1941 are vivid. His impression of the campus was of a "War Department," with "massive, unsympathetic buildings". In December of that year, in fact, events at Pearl Harbor led to the United States' entry into World War II. During his sophomore year at MIT, Ransom took a leave from MIT for service training.
I received a letter from the ROTC program, which I was involved in, that said something like, "This man has had training in engineering and ought to be considered for the Signal Corps." Well, the Army had no idea what to do with that note like this about a black soldier, so I stayed in the reception center for a couple of months while they tried to figure it out.
Victor Ransom in Technology in the Dream by Clarence G. Williams (MIT Press, 2001)
Freeman Field Mutiny
During his sophomore year at MIT, Vic Ransom took a leave from MIT for service training. A member of the the 477th Bombardment Group, Ransom was among the 101 Tuskegee Airmen who took part in the Freeman Field Mutiny protest against segregation in 1945. Black officers at Freeman Field, Indiana had been segregated in an abandoned cadet field and referred to as "trainees," regardless of rank.
I was the first guy into the Officers’ Club...They said to go back to quarters and remain there. So we were under arrest in quarters for violating an order.
Victor Ransom, New Jersey Monthly, 2013
Other MIT alums who served as Tuskegee Airmen include meteorologist Walter P. Reed '42, aeronautical engineers Yenwith Whitney '49 and Louis Young '50, and meteorologist Charles Anderson PhD '60.