B. Jones, Jr.
“Trailblazer, The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral,” by Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., USN with Paul Stillwell, and Afterword by Alma B. Gravely.
“Trailblazer, The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral”, is a tour de force first-person account of the life of Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. In his youth, he learned well the lessons of Jim Crow in his home-town of Richmond, Virginia. In spite of the various obstacles placed in his path by a narrow-minded society, he went on to become one of the first African Americans to be commissioned as an officer and, ultimately, as the very first African American officer to attain flag rank in the U.S. Navy.
Admiral Gravely tells his story with the help of Paul Stillwell, who is a Navy veteran, editor and author of “The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers.” In the Trailblazer book, we see through Admiral Gravely’s eyes and in his voice how he climbed the ladder in the Navy to become the first African American to command a ship, the first to command a fleet, and the first to become an admiral in 1971. His ground-breaking achievements were a tribute to his deeply ingrained strength of character, fiercely dedicated temperament, and dogged perseverance.
Trailblazer also details the personal legacy of Admiral Gravely, the husband and family man, as seen through the eyes of his devoted and loving wife, Alma, including their whirlwind courtship, which lead to their marriage in 1946 – a rich and full union that lasted 58 years – to the death of their beloved older son Robbie in 1978, and finally to Alma’s making peace with the certainty of his impending death.
“Sammie,” as Alma affectionately referred to the Admiral, very wisely drew from a diverse pool of experiences, as well as from leadership examples provided by his fellow officers, in modeling his own command style during his impressive naval service career. He became THE role model to emulate and set a fine example for thousands of African American naval officers who came after him. Read more