Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality

NYU Press, 2007 - 331 páginas
View the Table of Contents. Read Chapter 1.Winner of the 2006 Richard W. Leopold Prize from the Organization of American HistoriansWinner of the 2006 George Pendleton Prize from the Society for History in the Federal GovernmentNot only has [Schneller] given us his remarkable insight into one mans story of courage, perseverance and determination, but he has framed that dramatic experience within the larger narration of American race relations in the twentieth century. Anyone desiring a more complete understanding of African Americans struggle to desegregate the armed forces will find this book indispensable. -- "Journal of American History" A marvelous book. Schneller takes what might first appear to be a fairly narrow topic and offers a sweeping, well-researched account which places the question of race at the Naval Academy in the context of the Navy and the Nation. -- "International Journal of Maritime History"Describes for the first time the difficulties Wesley Brown endured and the concerted effort by a tight knot of southern upperclassmen to oust him using racial epithets, ostracism, and demerits." -- "Washington Post""This detailed story is one that has been long overdue in being told. Dr. Schneller has told it exceedingly well." -- "Proceedings/US Naval Institute""This richly researched and judiciously written study facilitates deeper comprehension of how institutional racism preserved white hegemony in the U.S. Navy until Midshipman Wesley Brown detonated its color barrier." -- Darlene Clark Hine, author of "A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America""A comprehensive andcompelling work. Schneller explores the lives of the pioneering black midshipmen in intensely interesting detail." -- David P. Colley, author of "Blood For Dignity: The Story Of The First Integrated Combat Unit In The U.S. Army""A remarkable book. Wesley Brown's journey through the U.S. Naval Academy shortly after WWII is a story of one man's strength, perseverance and courage in forging a new era in the grand tradition of naval leadership." -- John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, member of the 9/11 Commission"In well-documented detail and vivid prose, Breaking the Color Barrier captures the arduous, often tragic struggle black naval cadets were compelled to wage. This is history that rises to its memorable subject." -- William Loren Katz, author of "Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage""Traces the long and bitter struggle to integrate the U.S. Naval Academy. . . . "Breaking the Color Barrier" is an engrossing account of how an American institution struggled to deal with its racist past and ultimately triumphed in the fight to become integrated." -- "Shipmate Magazine">"A thoroughly researched, well-balanced account." -- "Choice"Only five black men were admitted to the United States Naval Academy between Reconstruction and the beginning of World War II. None graduated, and all were deeply scarred by intense racial discrimination, ranging from brutal hazing incidents to the institutionalized racist policies of the Academy itself. Breaking the Color Barrier examines the black community's efforts to integrate the Naval Academy, as well as the experiences that black midshipmen encountered at Annapolis. Historian Robert J. Schnelleranalyzes how the Academy responded to demands for integration from black and white civilians, civil rights activists, and politicians, as well as what life at the Academy was like for black midshipmen and the encounters they had with their white classmates.In 1949, Midshipman Wesley Brown achieved what seemed to be the impossible: he became the first black graduate of the Academy. Armed with intelligence, social grace, athleticism, self-discipline, and an immutable pluck, as well as critical support from friends and family, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, and the Executive Department, Brown was able to confront and ultimately shatter

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Robert J. Schneller Jr. is an official historian in the Contemporary History Branch of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Historical Center and holds a Ph.D. in military history from Duke University. He is an award-winning biographer and historian, and has published several books on American naval history, including Shield and Sword: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War, and A Quest for Glory: A Biography of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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