Blue & Gold and Black
Racial Integration of the U.S. Naval Academy
Military History - African American Studies
6 x 9, 456 pp.
30 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 12/19/2007
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $45.00 s

978-1-60344-000-4
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Blue & Gold and Black

Racial Integration of the U.S. Naval Academy

By Robert J. Schneller Jr.

During the twentieth century, the U.S. Naval Academy evolved from a racist institution to one that ranked equal opportunity among its fundamental tenets. This transformation was not without its social cost, however, and black midshipmen bore the brunt of it.

Blue & Gold and Black is the history of integration of African Americans into the Naval Academy. The book examines how civil rights advocates’ demands for equal opportunity shaped the Naval Academy’s evolution. Author Robert J. Schneller Jr. analyzes how changes in the Academy’s policies and culture affected the lives of black midshipmen, as well as how black midshipmen effected change in the Academy’s policies and culture.

Most institutional history is written from the top down, while most social history is written from the bottom up. Based on the documentary record as well as on the memories of hundreds of midshipmen and naval officers, Blue & Gold and Black includes both perspectives. By examining both the institution and the individual, a much more accurate picture emerges of how racial integration occurred at the Naval Academy.

Schneller takes a biographical approach to social history. Through written correspondence, responses to questionnaires, memoirs, and oral histories, African American midshipmen recount their experiences in their own words. Rather than setting adrift their humanity and individuality in oceans of statistics, Schneller uses their first-hand recollections to provide insights into the Academy’s culture that cannot be gained from official records. Covering the Jim Crow era, the civil rights movement, and the empowerment of African Americans from the late 1960s through the end of the twentieth century, Blue & Gold and Black traces the transformation of an institution that produces men and women who lead not only the Navy, but also the nation.

ROBERT J. SCHNELLER JR. has been an historian in the Contemporary History Branch since joining the Naval Historical Center in 1991. He is the author of five previous books on naval history, two of which have won prestigious awards. His Ph.D. is from Duke University. He lives in Woodbridge, Virginia

What Readers Are Saying:

“…sure to become one of the most important contributions to naval, military, race relations, Cold War, and Afro-American scholarship in the last twenty-fifty years. Dr. Schneller has captured long neglected and missing chapters of naval history, the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. in general and at the Naval Academy, specifically. . . . Military and civilian leaders/managers combating racism, sexism, and traditionalism will benefit from Schneller’s analysis of the effective and ineffective approaches that the navy took. More importantly, this book will reassure readers that great progress can be made toward resolving these problems.”--Regina T. Akers, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center

"Schneller assembled material for his book through written questionnaires, memories and oral histories. . . Schneller uses their firsthand recollections to provide insights into the academy's culture that cannot be gained from official records."-Daily News

". . . solid study. . . Scholars of military, civil rights, and twentieth-century history will want this book for their libraries."-Journal of American History

“Mr. Schneller never flinches in getting to the truth of what was going on. . . . That Mr. Schneller is a Navy historian working at the scores how far we have come in exorcising the demon of racism from the military. . . . The power of this book is that it allows us to follow these men and women in their own words.” --The Washington Times

“With amazing accuracy, Schneller has chronicled the social upheaval in America (1948-1968). Eyed through the lives of midshipmen at the Naval Academy, too rich in tradition and regimen, he filtered the essence of a time that improved this Nation. Then came the impacts. . .” --J. Paul Reason ’65, Admiral, US Navy (Retired)

Blue & Gold and Black is a riveting story of young midshipmen who knocked down the color barriers to their success and blazed a trail for future generations of Navy leaders. Bob Schneller is a master storyteller, and the story he vividly tells in this book is one of pure courage and determination. Blue &Gold and Black will fast become a classic. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the United States Naval Academy set sail on a course to build for our Navy a more diverse and talented officer corps.” --ADM Mike Mullen, USN

“Thanks to his remarkably thorough research and his cast of mind, Schneller has produced what is likely to remain the definitive work on a process that took far too long to accomplish.” --Proceedings

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