|Dr. King during the March on Washington|
Although it would be difficult to form a natural link to MLK and African American sailors in the Civil War, his words stand testament to the strength and struggles faced by both parties ages apart. One hundred years before King gave his now famous "I Have a Dream Speech," thousands of African American sailors fought bravely to secure their rights of freedom during the American Civil War.
In April 1963, Martin Luther King wrote from a Birmingham jail that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black sailors fought injustice at every point on the blockade, along every river bend and ocean the world over. Staring blankly in the face of danger, they served with honor and distinction. We continue to recognize their actions during this sesquicentennial anniversary. If the United States Navy acted as Uncle Sam's "webbed feet," Black sailors were part of the invaluable glue that held it all together. Sailors like Smalls, Lawson, and Carter helped pave the way for Civil Rights leaders like King, Parks, and Abernathy to do their work. The historical timeline for equality may not begin during the Civil War, yet it has some of its finest and brightest moments during it. We hope to continue to highlight that on this blog. Ultimately, equality is a battle fought by all who believe that all men women are created equal. It is a principle instilled by our founding fathers at the time of America's creation. It became a rallying call to preserve the Union during the Civil War. It is enshrined in the words of Dr. King.
Let us learn and study the history and heritage of African Americans and keep Dr. King's dream alive.
|African American sailors on the USS Hunchback|
We will be posting more about the role of African American sailors next month. Stay tuned.