In January 1944, a small group of sixteen enlisted men gathered at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois to begin an accelerated course that would turn them into the US Navy's first African American officers on active duty. They all knew that if they failed, their failure would continue to justify US Navy policy that prohibited African American officers. Against all odds, all the men passed the course. Twelve were commissioned as ensigns and a thirteenth was made a warrant officer. Today we know these men as the “Golden Thirteen.” To discuss the Golden Thirteen and US USN policy towards African Americans during WWII, the MacArthur Memorial Podcast sat down with Paul Stillwell, author of The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers and more recently: Battleship Commander: the Life of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee.
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