When WWII broke out, African Americans were still relegated to mess rank in the U.S. Navy. B-1, a band of NC A&T students, integrated the Navy’s ranks, becoming the first blacks to serve at a general rating. An influential coalition of leaders (Gov. Broughton, Presidents of NC A&T, NC College, UNC, and Fayetteville State) the secured the band’s service on the UNC campus. The bandsmen recruited for B-1 had to be excellent musicians, intelligent, and aware that they were part of an experiment that could fail spectacularly if any of them reacted "wrong" to the affronts they would suffer when being denied seats at a restaurant or moved to the back of a bus. They were so good that they were transferred to Pearl Harbor in May 1944, the largest posting of African-American sailors in the world, where they were expected to help quell racial disturbances that were threatening the domestic peace that had been obtained in Hawaii. Mr. Morrow, a WWII veteran of B-1, will be present at the lecture.
Sponsored by the Robert Taylor WWII Memorial Bequest.