Exhibit Highlights the First All-Black Coast Guard Crew In the U.S.
Photo of the Pea Island Coast Guard Crew, the first all-black Coast Guard crew in the country
Men and women of color have served in the American Military since day one. Although we were often still treated like we were subhuman, our heroic efforts helped to turn the tide during many battles and ensure America’s independence from British rule. How ironic is it that we helped fight for the freedom of a country that would still deny us our rights as human beings for centuries to come? Many times African American military outfits have not received proper representation but one city in Virginia is aiming to change that.
The Old Coast Guard Station Museum in Hampton, VA, is displaying an exhibit entitled “African – Americans in the Coast Guard”. During the exhibit a film, “The Voice of Gladdened Hearts”, will also be shown which tells the story of the daring rescue of the E.S. Newman by an African – American Coast Guard unit. In 1896, with no supplies except for raincoats and rope, the captain and his crew waded into the treacherous waters of a hurricane to save people aboard the E.S. Newman. “They weren’t doing it for the glory,” said Kathryn Fisher, executive director of the Old Coast Guard Station. “Nobody from Washington came down to see them, and they didn’t get a bonus in their paycheck, but no matter what the greater picture of the world was like, certain people felt the desire to help others and serve their country. ”
“In shipwrecks similar to that, crews would just have to wait until the storm subsided to rescue them, with a very small number saved successfully,”said Fisher. The film also features interviews with current men and women of the coast guard as well as descendants of the Pea Island crew that made the rescue. The exhibit provides a nice look at the positions of black military personnel during the time period.