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Naval Historical Collection

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Introduction

The history of the U.S. Navy is, in many ways, the history of African Americans. African Americans, as free blacks and slaves, served and worked on the ships that won the American Revolution. They manned the merchant ships and sailing vessels of the early years of the American republic, and fought with honor and distinction during the U.S. Civil War. In the 20th century, black and white sailors sought to understand the legacy of racial discrimination and fought against racial injustice. A U.S. Naval War College graduate, Elmo Zumwalt, Jr. (Class of 1953), who became the youngest CNO in U.S. history wrote, in his 1970 Z-gram on Equal Opportunity, "Ours must be a Navy family that recognizes no artificial barriers of race, color, or religion. There is no black Navy, no white Navy-just one Navy-the United States Navy.

This exhibition of selections from the Naval Historical Collection includes the student thesis of Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely, class of 1964, student theses from the class of 1973-1974 on race relations in the U.S. Navy, and information on three volumes from the Naval War College Rare Book Collection on the topic of African Americans and the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). 

For those on campus at the U.S. Naval War College, there are additional exhibitions on African American history and heritage outside the HR office.