Blacks @ Dartmouth 1775 to 1950

African Americans @ Dartmouth College 1775-1950

Matthew Washington Bullock

Dartmouth College
Class of 1904 (A.B.)
11 Sep 1881, Dabney NC
1 Dec 1972, Roxbury MA
Other Schools
1907 Harvard (LL.B.)
School Dartmouth College Class 1904
Born 11 Sep 1881, Dabney NC Degree A.B.
Died 1 Dec 1972, Roxbury MA Other Schools
1907 Harvard (LL.B.)

Career summary

College athlete (football and track), lawyer and civic leader in Boston, Massachusetts

Quotes from biographical sources

Matthew Washington Bullock died December 17 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Julia B. Gaddy in Detroit. Former chairman of the Massachusetts State Parole Board and one of the first blacks to be prominent as a football coach, Matt Bullock was an outstanding figure among Dartmouth graduates of his time. When Dartmouth conferred the honorary Doctorate of Laws on him in June 1971, the citation said, in part: "Your life is a testimonial that faith, hard work, and perseverance an overcome all obstacles. You were born of slave parents who could neither read nor write. Fleeing the South, your parents came to Massachusetts with total assets consisting of seven children and ten dollars in cash. You started a new century by coming to Dartmouth entirely on your own. Your very active undergraduate career was capped by that memorable football game in which you helped to spoil the opening of the Harvard Stadium. To show that there were no hard feelings you returned to Harvard the next year to study law."

Matt Bullock was born in Dabney, N,C., on September II, 1881. Coming to Boston at the age of 8, he attended Everett High School and entered Dartmouth in the fall of 1900. As an undergraduate, he played end on the varsity football team for three seasons and was an honorable mention on Walter Camp's All-American team. He also was a track letterman, sang in the Glee Club and College Choir, and was a member of Palaeopitus. While at Harvard Law School from 1904to 1907, he coached football at Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst and then at Maiden High School. With his LL.B. from Harvard, he joined the faculty of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., teaching history and Latin in the preparatory school and economics and sociology in the college for four years. He then practiced law in Atlanta for three years and from 1915 to 1917 was Dean of Alabama A & M College for Negroes in Huntsville. During World War I he served with the YMCA in France.

After the war, he settled in Boston as executive secretary of the Boston Urban League. 1919-21, and also launched a distinguished legal career that extended over thirty years until his retirement in 1949. Governor Fuller appointed him to the Massachusetts Parole Board in 1927 and he served on that Board under nine governors and was its chairman from 1944 to 1949. During those years he also was Assistant to the Commissioner of Correction and Administrator of the Interstate Compact for Probationers. In 1945, at the close of World War II, he was named by Secretary of the Navy Forrestal to serve on a six-man commission to visit naval installations in the Pacific to investigate racial relations among enlisted men and officers. The report of this commission marked the start of racial integration in the U.S. Navy-After retirement.

Matt Bullock devoted his energies to the Bahai World Faith, of which he was a member for more than 25 years. At his own expense he traveled more than 100,000 miles, to many centers in Europe. Asia, Africa, the West Indies, Hawaii, and the Philippines. His interest in Dartmouth was undiminished over the years, and he was an active and beloved member of the Class of 1904. He served as class agent for a period and established the Jesse and Amanda Bullock Scholarship Fund in honor of his parents. His community and social activities were numerous, including the Boston Center of Adult Education, Ford Hall Forum, Boston Zoning Board, YMCA, 20th Century Association, United Negro College Fund, and Whispering Willows Summer Camp, of which he was board chairman in the 1940s. He also was on the national board of the NAACP.

Matt Bullock was married in 1910 to Katherine Wright who died in 1945. Survivors are his son, Judge Matthew W. Bullock Jr. of Philadelphia; his daughter Mrs. Julia Gaddy of Detroit, and five grandchildren. A brother, William H. Bullock '09, died in 1967. Funeral services were held in Roxbury, Mass., on December 21.

Obituary. (Mar 1973). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 65(6), 86-87.

Other source(s)

  1. Matthew Bullock '04. (5/20/2011). Rauner Library Post. Retrived from
  2. Cromwell, Adelaide M. (2007). Unveiled voices, unvarnished memories : The Cromwell family in slavery and segregation, 1692-1972. Columbia: University of Missouri Press.
  3. Mulligan, Andrew. (Sep 2005). An Ivy League Pioneer : Dartmouth's first African-American football player made his mark on and off the field. Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 98, 36-37.
  4. Matthew Washington Bullock. (1941-1944). In Thomas Yesner (Ed.), Who's Who in Colored America (Vol. 6, p. 92). Brooklyn, New York: Yesner.