Archive for the 'African-Americans' Category

Feb 12

A Step Forward

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 12:01 AM

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Less than two years after becoming the first African American commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, Ensign John W. Lee stands at his battle station on board the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge, his wish to serve in a large combatant ship granted. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

On 15 March 1947, one month to the day before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in baseball’s major leagues, John Wesley Lee Jr. became the first African American to be commissioned as a regular officer in the Navy, that is, no longer a reservist. Many citizens of this country made it clear that they did not welcome Robinson’s arrival in baseball. He received numerous death threats and other pieces of hate mail. John Lee achieved his milestone without encountering hostility, and that was at least in part the result of how the Navy arranged things for him. After… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 8

World War One – USS Olympia’s Sailors

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 12:01 AM

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USS Olympia (NHHC)

On 6 April 1917, the USS Olympia (C-6) was in transit, sailing from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to Hampton Roads, Virginia. A gale was blowing from the southwest and the ship had to be secured for heavy weather. It was also the day Congress declared war against Germany. For the next nineteen months, USS Olympia sailors assisted with U.S. war efforts by participating in convoy patrols in the North Atlantic. The day that the Armistice was signed the ship was in Murmansk, Russia and a portion of her crew had spent the previous few months on land fighting the Bolsheviks.1… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 2

Women in Aviation: an Uplifting Tradition

Monday, July 2, 2018 3:22 PM

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(Photo: National Archives Catalog)

On the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, we remember the women who made female aviation possible. Eighty-one years ago today, Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. In a society where women’s capacities to physically and mentally cope with the rigors of aviation faced heavy scrutiny, Earhart overcame barriers and established new standards to pave the way for women in the field. After first flying in an airplane in 1920, she worked odd jobs to purchase her own aircraft and received an international pilot’s license in 1923. Earhart set about breaking altitude and… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 11

Nursing to Combat: The Ever Expanding Role of Women

Monday, June 11, 2018 12:01 AM

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WAVES practice marksmanship At an indoor range at Treasure Island Naval Base, California, 11 February 1943. (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)

Throughout their history, women have impacted the Navy and Marine Corps. At the outset, women served as dedicated wives managing the household and raising children while their husbands served. As time went on, the role of women grew. Here’s a look at the progression of official responsibilities women undertake in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. 1908- Congress passed the Naval Appropriations Bill which established the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. The first women to become official members of the U.S. Navy were known as the “Sacred Twenty.” These women payed their own travel expense to Washington D.C. to pass the oral… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 5

LCDR Wesley Brown, the First African American Graduate of the USNA

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 12:01 AM

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Lieutenant Commander Wesley Brown, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired)

  This oral history is particularly noteworthy, because it provides personal recollections from the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Brown entered the Academy in 1945, a century after the institution was founded, and graduated in 1949. A handful of black midshipmen had previously been appointed to the school in Annapolis, but all were either pushed out or left of their own volition prior to graduation. Brown spent his youth in Washington, D.C., where he attended segregated Dunbar High and had part-time jobs working for the Navy and Howard University. He was able to succeed at the Naval Academy through a combination… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 6

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl Maxie Brashear, the U.S. Navy’s First African American Master Diver

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 12:01 AM

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Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl M. Brashear, USN (Ret.) (1931-2006)

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl Maxie Brashear (1931-2006) used a rare combination of grit, determination, and persistence to overcome formidable hurdles to become the first black master diver in the U.S. Navy. His race was an obstacle, as were his origin on a sharecropper’s farm in rural Kentucky and the modest amount of education he received there. But these were not his greatest challenges. He was held back by an even bigger factor: In 1966 his left leg was amputated just below the knee because he was badly injured on a salvage operation. After the amputation, the Navy sought to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 11

Excerpt from “The Black Midshipman at the Naval Academy”

Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:01 AM

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Dr. Alonzo C. McClennan.

For this week’s post, and in honor of Black History Month, the Naval History Blog offers a selection from a 1973 article in Proceedings by By Lieutenant Commander R. L. Field, U. S. Navy (Retired). In the following selection, Lieutenant Commander Field discusses some of the earliest black midshipmen appointed to the the Naval Academy. It is presented here without additional commentary other than to note that readers are encouraged to explore the remarkable lives of the men noted by LCDR Field after their separation from the academy.   The U. S. Naval Academy was established in 1845 by an… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 4

Thomas Mandigo: From Slave to Seaman

Thursday, February 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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The gravestone of Thomas Mandigo, Sandy Hill A. M. E. Cemetery, Chester County, PA. Author's photo.

Tucked in the woods in the rolling foothills of Pennsylvania’s Welsh Mountains sits the tiny and largely forgotten Sandy Hill African Methodist Episcopal cemetery. A visitor to the rural graveyard is likely to be greeted first by the sound of clopping horses pulling Amish buggies along the rural highway. Taking a closer look, one will see several American flags marking the graves of veterans buried there. From there, one may see the stone of a sailor propped against a tree. It reads, THOMAS MANDIGO AGED 70 YEARS OF U. S. WAR SHIP LADOWNA The story of how Mandigo came to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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