Over the holiday, the Navy's newest destroyer, USS Gravely, was commissioned in its new homeport of Norfolk, Virginia. The $1 billion guided missile destroyer has a crew of 276 and is named after Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely Jr.. It is the first naval warship named after an African-American.
Gravely was born in segregated Richmond 88 years ago and died in 2004. Over a four decade career with the Navy that began in 1942, Graveley became the first black officer to command a warship, become a flag officer, command a fleet, and, eventually became the service's first black admiral. "It is a tremendous thing to see this one come in, this one named for my husband," Alma Gravely told WTKR. "What's that mean to go from Jim Crow to this? It just shows that we as a nation are finally opening our eyes and seeing that we're all one person, all one people."
More on the naval pioneer from the Virginian Pilot:
"[Graveley] was the first black officer commissioned through a reserve officer training course. After a stint aboard a submarine chaser with an all-black crew - a way for the Navy to prove to the nation that black sailors were as competent as their white counterparts - Gravely left active service and finished his history degree at Virginia Union University. It was a short break from what became his career. In 1949, he was recalled to active duty. He quickly rose to command four ships: the Theodore Chandler, Falgout, Taussig and Jouett. His final sea assignment was commander of the Navy's 3rd Fleet.
"Alma Gravely recalled some of the early discrimination her husband faced. Once, while in Florida with the crew of a submarine chaser, he decided to accompany some enlisted crew members to an enlisted club, knowing the officers club was off- limits to black officers. Someone at the enlisted club tried to have him arrested for impersonating an officer - a charge quickly dropped once the boat's commanding officer confirmed he was, in fact, a naval officer."
It's a very inspirational story. Watch two news reports AFTER THE JUMP ...
Thanks TRUE HALLIWELL