July 28, 2005
Library of Congress contacts: Anneliesa Clump Behrend [email protected];
Helen Dalrymple [email protected]
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT TO HOST BOOK TALK
ON BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER AT THE NAVAL ACADEMY
Author Robert J. Schneller Jr. and Wesley Anthony Brown will
discuss Schneller's new book, Breaking the Color
Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen
and the Struggle for Racial Equality, at noon on Wednesday,
Aug. 10, in the Whittall Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building,
10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
In 1949 Midshipman Wesley Brown became the U.S. Naval Academy's
first African American graduate. Breaking the Color Barrier examines
the black community's efforts to integrate the academy,
as well as what life in Annapolis was like for the first black
midshipmen. The book talk is sponsored by the Library’s
Veterans History Project. A book-signing follows the presentation.
Published in April, “Breaking the Color Barrier” examines
the efforts taken by the black community, equal rights advocates
and members of Congress to integrate the Navy officer corps and,
specifically, the United States Naval Academy, beginning in the
late 19th century. The book culminates with Brown’s graduation
from the academy.
Brown, a resident of the District of Columbia, attended Dunbar
High School before entering the academy in the summer of 1945.
Armed with intelligence, social grace, self-discipline and critical
support from family and friends, Brown, after four arduous years
of training and academic challenges, became the first African
American graduate of the Naval Academy on June 3, 1949.
Following his graduation, Brown joined the Civil Engineering
Corps, rising to lieutenant commander before he retired from
the Navy in July 1969. Brown has also served as chairman of Rep.
Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Service Academy Selection Committee.
Schneller, a government historian in the Naval Historical Center
at the Washington Navy Yard, has spent 10 years researching,
writing and publishing historic accounts of the integration of
the United States Naval Academy.
The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center
is a nationwide volunteer effort to collect and preserve oral
histories from America’s war veterans. The collection is
housed at the Library of Congress. To date the archive has received
more than 35,000 individual submissions. Those who are interested
in participating are encouraged to e-mail the Veterans History
Project at [email protected] or
to call toll-free (888) 371-5848 to request a free project kit.
For more information about the Veterans
History Project, visit http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
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