Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Golden Thirteen

Edited by Paul Stillwell
Published by Bluejacket Books, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD
303 pages
This book is the oral recollections of the first black naval officers in the USN. The book records the thoughts and opinions of eight of the thirteen plus three white naval officers who served with the Golden Thirteen.
In seeing the American Navy today, it is hard to imagine a more diverse navy anywhere in the world. Yet, prior to World War II the navy was not a welcoming place to black men and women. Blacks were restricted to the steward trade. The opportunities that existed for whites did not exist for blacks.
President Roosevelt in World War II began a slow process in changing the ethnic face of the United States Navy, in spite of the Old School that existed in the fleet.
With every challenge there comes along those individuals who rise to the challenge and excel in it. Those individuals would be the Golden Thirteen. Their recollections describe the difficulties in overcoming racial prejudice not only in the fleet but in society.
The Thirteen after completing the initial officer’s training were assigned to the fleet but usually into jobs of a lesser quality than their skill levels. This type of job selection discrimination continued into the 1970s.This book is a must read for all those who study racial issues and how they affect society and how society can rise above racial inequality. (RB)

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