African-Americans and the U.S. Navy - World War II



When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the Navy's African-American sailors had been limited to serving as Mess Attendants for nearly two decades. However, the pressures of wartime on manpower resources, the good examples of heros like Doris Miller, the willingness of thousands of patriotic men to participate in the war effort plus well-focused political activities gradually forced changes. Though the Navy remained racially segregated in training and in most service units, in 1942 the enlisted rates were opened to all qualified personnel. In 1944, African-Americans' aspirations were further gratified when the Navy commissioned its first-ever officers of their race.

This page presents a selection of relevant World War II images and provides links to many others.

The following pages feature African-American individuals who served in the World War II Navy:


The following pictures provide a selection of views of African Americans serving in the Navy during World War II. For additional coverage of African-Americans and the Wartime Navy, see:

For pictorial coverage of other eras, see African Americans and the U.S. Navy


Click the photograph for a larger image.


Photo #: NH 46882

President Franklin D. Roosevelt


Greeting a Navy First Class Mess Attendant or Ship's Cook, during his tour of the Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, circa 1942.
Navy men present may be recovering at the hospital from injuries received in action.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 87KB; 740 x 615

 
Photo #: 80-G-11741

USS Argonaut (SS-166)


Crewmen reading their mail, after returning to Pearl Harbor from the Makin Island Raid, 26 August 1942.
The gun behind them is a 6"/53.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 96KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-71586

USS Copahee (ACV-12)


Mess Attendants manning a 20mm machine gun, in a gun tub beside the flight deck, 9 September 1942. The carrier was then en route from Alameda, California, to the southwest Pacific.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 75KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-294731

Camp Robert Smalls, Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois


A Navy Captain inspects Service School personnel, 2 April 1943.
Note band playing in the left background.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 114KB; 740 x 600

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-233268

Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington


Seaman First Class Henderson Biven working on an aircraft, 26 April 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 78KB; 580 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-332964

Surrender of Japan, 1945


Patrons and staff at the Naval Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, Officers' Club celebrate news of Japan's surrender, 14 August 1945.
Note bottle of "Ballantine's Beer" raised by officer in left center background.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 620

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-338470

Peace Celebrations at Naval Amphibious Base, Manus, Admiralty Islands, 15 August 1945


Members of the 22nd Special Naval Construction Battalion cheering news of Japan's acceptance of peace terms.
Note sign: "War is over! Good-Bye Pacific. Hello USA".

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 126KB; 740 x 600

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions





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