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Glenn Allen Knoblock

World War II Navy Cross honoree, was born in Dale, South Carolina, to Renty and Jenny Pinckney. His father was a carpenter working on shrimp boats in the Beaufort area; his mother died when he was young. William Pinckney was subsequently raised by his older sister Ethel, and attended school through the seventh grade. Times were rough during the Depression, so Pinckney followed in his father's footsteps, working as a carpenter on the Beaufort waterfront, and became a partner in his own business. However, the navy beckoned with the offer of free housing, food, and a steady paycheck. William Pinckney joined the U.S. Navy on 6 July 1938 at Raleigh, North Carolina, and was sent to the Unit K West training camp for African American recruits at Norfolk, Virginia.

Growing up in the segregated South Pinckney likely had no delusions about the place of African Americans in ...


Michael Toussaint

sailed his whaling bark between San Francisco and the waters of the Arctic and Pacific in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born in Barbados on 13 July 1859 to a Scottish sugar planter and a West Indian woman of Indian, African, and European ancestry, he became the first and only black seaman to achieve the rank of captain on the West Coast and the Pacific, and to sail these seas in that capacity during the nineteenth century.

In 1875, at the age of 16, he sailed to Boston as a cabin boy. His interest and enthusiasm caught the attention of the ship’s captain, who instructed Shorey in the fundamentals of navigation. Shorey proved to be both adventurous and ambitious. The next year he made his maiden voyage aboard a whaler, and by 1880 he had become an officer He then set sail on a voyage that ...


Jeff Shantz

civil and labor rights activist, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1941, at the age of twelve, Smith ran away from home and joined the U.S. Navy. The navy did not discover their mistake in enlisting the underage Smith until he had reached the age of fourteen, by which time Smith had successfully passed through boot camp and sailed to Europe. During his two years in the navy, Smith would learn two skills that would greatly influence the course of his life: boxing and heavy equipment operation.

Upon his return to Pittsburgh in 1943, the fourteen-year-old Smith chose not to return to school. Instead he decided to devote himself full time to boxing. In two years as a middleweight fighter Smith participated in more than one hundred professional fights. He also met and developed a friendship with Edgar Kaufmann a Pittsburgh department store owner and boxing ...