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Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, a predominantly black community, one of twelve children of Tecora and Alexander Arbor. He had two sisters and nine brothers, and his ancestors had received land in the area when slavery ended. Outgoing, humorous, and loquacious by nature, Arbor possessed a typically rural southern sense of place. During an oral history interview in the mid‐1980s, he described Cotton Plant as, “A little place that only me and the Good Lord knows [with a population of] 1,661 up until the day I left, and there's never been that many since.” Like his siblings, Arbor received a private school education. During his years in Arkansas he attended Arkadelphia–Cotton Plant Academy. Around 1930 the family left the farm area and moved to Chicago as part of a northerly migration of blacks seeking employment opportunities Arbor s father worked as a carpenter ...

Article

Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

Article

Jeffrey R. Yost

physicist and engineer, was born in Newark, New Jersey. He was one of four children. His father worked at various maintenance and painting jobs and his mother was a teletype operator. After classes at Brooklyn Technical High School, Gourdine often worked long hours with his father on cleaning and painting jobs. This experience led him to focus on his studies as well as athletics in hopes of an easier life.

His talent in swimming earned him a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan but he instead chose to attend Cornell University He paid his own tuition early in his college career working for a radio and telegraph firm prior to receiving a scholarship for track and field Gourdine competed in sprints low hurdles and the long jump The six foot tall 175 pound Gourdine earned the nickname Flash as a result of both his speed and his favorite ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Monticello, Florida, one of nine children of John and Mary Isom. The farm the Isoms lived on consisted of sixty-eight acres, a portion of which was once sharecropped by Roger's grandfather. His father was an army veteran, as were six of his siblings. Ironically, when his mother asked Roger early on to consider attending the U.S. Naval Academy, he flatly refused. However, Isom later noted that “when my turn came to join the Army, I looked at the Navy instead, partly to compete with my older brother, and just to be different. I went to the Navy recruiter and said what can you do for me, I want to be an astronaut” (author's interview, 4 Mar. 2007). He subsequently enlisted in the navy in June 1983.

From his earliest navy days Isom both aspired to and was ...

Article

Paul Stillwell

naval officer, was born in Washington, D.C., the second child of Joseph Henry and Bernice Chism Reason. His parents, both of whom had degrees from Howard University, met when they were teaching at Florida A&M University, also a traditionally black school. They subsequently moved to Washington, where both worked in the field of education. His mother taught chemistry, physics, and biology in public high schools; his father, who had a PhD in Romance Languages and a master's in Library Science, worked for many years as Director of University Libraries at Howard. Reason received his elementary and secondary education in segregated schools in Washington and graduated in 1958 from the city s newly integrated McKinley Technical High School He applied for a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and had the second highest score of the three hundred applicants who took the entrance exam but he was turned ...

Article

Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Murphreesboro, Tennessee, one of two children of Frank E. Sr. and Rosa Sublett, who were divorced in 1931. When Sublett was about five years old, the family moved to Highland Park, Illinois, and a year later to Glencoe, Illinois, another Chicago suburb. Sublett spent most of the rest of his life in Glencoe. His education in the first eight grades was in Glencoe, and he then went to high school in nearby Winnetka. He was among the very few black students in the high school, from which he graduated in 1938, but he later recalled that he encountered no prejudice there (Stillwell, 149). As a teenager he got his first exposure to service life when he attended Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Riley, Kansas, for two summers. He spent the 1938–1939 school year at the University of ...