January 1973 - Ebony Magazine
"The Ebony writers had been to the Academy to capture and report on a piece of history. They had captured a story about an event that had never occurred on any campus of a U.S. military academy before or since. They had captured the story about the election of four (4) African-Americans as the Class Officers at the U.S. Naval Academy!"
"Four black midshipmen from the class of 1975 had apparently overcome phenomenal odds and been elected class officers by their classmates despite being a part of an overwhelmingly minority class (approximately 32 in a class of over 1200) in the brigade."
As we turned the pages way to the back of the magazine, there they were, as big as life. Their covers perched high atop freshly smoothed afros, they stood proudly alongside our own USNA Superintendent, VADM William Mack—Coop, Cozy, Hank, and Ron.
Although the story did a good job of capturing the historic value of this event, it did spend an inordinate amount of time on the social aspects of the life of a Black midshipmen. Again times were different and the article should have focused on more important issues of the day, but the critical element here was that the story of Black leadership was captured, reported, and admired by many Americans around the country. Ladies and gentlemen… FOUR AT THE HELM…(Hardankle, 2015).
I was a plebe at the time and had no idea this was happening. As a plebe we had no access to TV or to magazines. Nor could we speak to upperclassman. As a midshipman you were one of 4400 that lived in Bancroft Hall. I personally found an old copy during the summer of 1973. I did not own a subscription to Ebony magazine but I did own a copy of Jet Magazine. Upon graduation I was in both Jet and Ebony magazine, the front cover of Navy Times and newspapers up and down the Atlantic Coast. Today this event would have gone viral. Maybe it can get retold and go viral from here.
#hardankle #academy #blackhistory #africanamericanfirsts #Classof1975 USNA
Hardankle (2015). Four at the helm. The Hardankle Newsletter.
Dr. Jordan B smith jr.
I attended the U. S. Naval Academy from 1972-1976 earning a B.S. in Mathematics. Served 20 years both active and reserve in the US Marines. Veteran of the Desert Shield/Storm. I earned a MAED and Ed D. specializing in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2015. I graduated from CBC High School in Clayton, MO in 1972.