1 Battleship Road
Service and Segregation
During the depression of the 1930s, African Americans were being recruited at the high school and college level to become part of the Navy. However, aboard the first of ten battleships to join the WWII fleet, the USS North Carolina did not allow African Americans to be sailors. Instead, they served as mess attendants, cooks, and stewards. On the Battleship there were forty-two “mess men” and forty-nine men for cook and steward staff. These divisions of men had a number of duties such as serving meals to admirals, captains, wardroom and warrant officers. Although, African Americans did not serve as officers, they still engaged in all of the battle station assignments while aboard the ship. Without the staff of “mess men,” the North Carolina would not have functioned at the peak performance throughout WWII. African American took pride in their contributions to the war effort, as did the other crew members yet did not have the opportunity to rise in the ranks.