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African-American Navy Bands of World War II
U.S. Navy B-1

The Forgotten First:
B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy

WINNER of a 2014 Willie Parker Peace History Book Award from NC Society of Historians
Silver Medal for "Best Interior Design" from Independent Book Publishers Association
"thoroughly researched and beautifully written. . ."
--Stephen E. Smith in O.Henry magazine
"the detail and clean prose make for an engaging read. . ."
--Jeff Sykes in Yes! Weekly

Media Events & book publicity
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Bladen Community College Library
11 a.m.
7418 NC HWY 41W
Dublin, NC
Alex Albright talks about B-1, sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Sunday, February 18, 2018
Chapel Hill Historical Society
3 p.m.
100 Library Drive
Chapel Hill, NC
B-1 vet Calvin Morrow joins Alex Albright in a discussion of how UNC-CH and NC A and T helped integrate Carolina and the U.S. Navy. Sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Tuesday, Febraury 20, 2018
Wilson Public Library
6:30 p.m.
249 Nash St. NW
Wilson, NC
Alex Albright talks about B-1, sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
6:30 p.m.
Asheboro Public Library
201 Worth St.
Asheboro, NC
B-1 vet Calvin Morrow joins Alex Albright in a discussion of how UNC-CH and NC A and T helped integrate Carolina and the U.S. Navy

The Book
Published by R.A. Fountain October 25, 2013.
196 pp., 70 illustrations, afterword, notes, works cited
ISBN 978-0-9842102-2-0
$20 retail
designed by Eva Roberts

The Forgotten First was one of 38 books named as a finalist for the 2014 Montaigne Medal, presented annually to two or three of the "most thought-provoking books" published in the U.S. during the past year that "illuminate, progress, or redirect thought." The Montaigne is one of a series of Hoffer Awards, which were established in 2000 to "honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit."

The book was one of three finalists for "Best Interior Design" and received the Silver Medal at the Independent Book Publishers Association's Ben Franklin Awards ceremony on May 28 in New York City.

Steven Case, in the North Carolina Libraries Association Online, writes that the The Forgotten First "provides a detailed and fascinating portrait of the pressures for change brought to bear by respected opinion makers, such as James Shepard, C.C. Spaulding, and Frank Porter Graham, who each sought in varying ways to use the crisis of the war as an avenue for social change." The author "skillfully pilots the reader through an intimate portrait of the band members as they negotiated their way through the complexities in service to a military that treated them as second class citizens." And he concludes that The Forgotten First is "highly recommended for collections focused on North Carolina, military history, and any collection on the history of race relations and integration.

December 2013 O.Henry reviews The Forgotten First
Stephen E. Smith's review in the December 2013 issue of O.Henry magazine calls The Forgotten First a "comprehensive study of the forgotten B-1 band" that "places in perspective North Carolina's current social and legislative struggles to overcome the vestiges of racism." The book, he notes, is "thoroughly researched and beautifully written."

Read the rest of Smith's review (which is also published in December issues of two other magazines, Salt, from Southern Pines, and Pinestraw, from Wilmington), and an excerpt from The Forgotten First in the online version of O.Henry.

You can buy The Forgotten First

by mailing a check for $20 to
R.A. Fountain
P.O. Box 44
Fountain, NC 27829-0044.
We'll pay the postage.
Buy both the book & CD for $30, by check or money order or in person at Fountain General Store.

(We've disabled our Magento-powered e.store and hope to have a new & improved e.store up & running early in 2018. We apologize for this inconvenience.)

Other ways to find copies of The Forgotten First
In person at these locations

North Carolina Museum of History Gift Shop, 5 E. Edenton St.

Scuppernong Books, 302 E. Elm St.

University Book Exchange, 516 Cotanche St.

Woodside Antiques, 3760 S. Main St.

Fountain General Store, 6754 E. Wilson St.

Washington, DCbr> Museum of the United States Navy bookshop, in the museum and at Amazon.com

Jeff Sykes' excellent article in Yes! Weekly, June 11, 2014, about Calvin Morrow's recent appearance at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro:
Read it!

New Bern (NC) Sun Journal, January 29, 2014: Read it!
Article & photos by Charlie Hall

Carolina CoastOnLine, January 16, 2014: Read it!

Frank Stasio's interview with author Alex Albright and B-1 vet Calvin Morrow on WUNC Radio's The State of Things, which was broadcast live from Greensboro on December 17, 2013: Listen to it.

B-1 News


B-1's service and historical significance was commemorated with the installation on May 27 of a permanent historical marker. Nearly 200 attended the formal marker installation ceremony, at the intersection of West Franklin Street and South Roberson Street in Chapel Hill.

B-1 vets Calvin Morrow and Simeon Holloway were the stars of the day, and they had a strong supporting cast of friends and family who'd traveled from all over the United States for this special event. Special guests included Captain Kenneth Collins, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Navy Band, Master Chief Derek Werner, band director of the Mephis Navy Band; Secretary Larry Hall of the NC Military and Veteran Affairs; Sen. Valerie Foushee, and a dozen other state and local elected officials.

Photo of Captain Collins (left) and Master Chief Werner with B-1 vets Simeon Holloway (second from left) and Calvin Morrow by Eddie Price, who has produced a beautiful scrapbook of the day's events.

B-1 was feted before the installation with a breakfast hosted by the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau and after the ceremony with a luncheon and reception afterwards at the Hargraves Center--which had served as their barracks during their Chapel Hill service. They marched daily from Hargraves to campus to play for the raising of colors for white cadets, who were housed at Alexander Hall; their route passed the spot where the marker was installed 75 years to the date after B-1 became the first African Americans to serve in the modern Navy at regular rank.

B-1 and three of its vets--Calvin Morrow, Simeon Holloway, and Jewitt White--wwere honored at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy on August 4 with family and friends as they celebrated their 75th anniversary since enlisting at Musicians rank. A book signing and reception at the Navy Conference Center followed.

Morrow, Holloway and WHite were interviewed on tape by the Navy communications and media team for a video history of B-1 that will be distributed world-wide. They and their families also got a "white glove" tour of the Navy Museum: the gloves were required for all so that could handle the objects.

On Saturday, August 5, the three B-1 vets and families talked informally about integrating the modern Navy to a full house in the Watson Reading Room at the Alexandria [Virginia] Black History Museum. They and their families were treated to a special "before hours" guided tour of the new Smithsonian Museum of African-American History, led by Krewasky Salter, curator of the military exhibit at the museum

On Sunday, August 6, vets, family and friends were honored during worship service at the historic Metropolitan AME Church, "the national cathedral of African Methodism," with a video introduction created by the church's media specialist Terry Johnson. A luncheon and book signing followed.

Publications about B-1
Two magazines ran stories about B-1 in 2015. Don Vaughan's article on B-1 was published by Military Officer magazine, and Greg Drane's piece in Music Educators Journal was in the March 2015 issue. Drane is also working on a B-1 project for his dissertation towards earning his PhD from Penn State.

Media Events & book publicity
No events are currenty scheduled.

Media Events & book publicity
past events

August 2017 During their 75th reunion in Washington, D.C., B-1 bandsmen were videoed by the U.S. Navy for a 30-minute documentary about B-1 that be distributed world-wide. Book signings were hald at the Navy Yard, the Arlington Black History Museum, and Metropolitan AME Church.

May 27, 2017
Prior to the installation of a historical marker erected to honor B-1's service on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus during World War II, Calvin Morrow and Simeon Holloway were honored with a reception at the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau. Afterwards, they were treated to lunch at their "ship," now the Hargraves Center.

August 5-7, 2016

As part of their annual reunion, bandsmen and families met the public at "Keeping the Legacy Alive," a free community celebration and dinner at the Hargraves Center in Chapel Hill. They also ate dinner at the restaurant of their old friend Mama Dip. Calvin Morrow and Simeon Holloway were featured guests on WCHL-Radio's "Talk of the Town." And a banquet and booksigning for the band and families at the Friday Center culminated the reunion.

January 23, 2017

Wilson County Library
249 W. Nash St., Wilson
Author Alex Albright discussed how B-1 integrated the U.S. Navy as well as the campus at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Thursday, December 10, 2015
Durham County Library
300 N. Roxboro St., Durham
B-1 vets Calvin Morrow joined Alex Albright in a discussion about how NC A&T and North Carolina College students helped integrate the U.S. Navy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

August 14-16, 2015
Chapel Hill, NC.
B-1 fellows and family gathered for their annual reunion, this one in remembrance of V-J day and the end of World War II seventy years ago.

June 12, 2015
Screening of "Pitch a Boogie Woogie" in Wilmington, N.C., as part of the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival, at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.

March 23, 2015, 4 p.m.
Warrenton Public Library, Warrenton, NC
Author talked about B-1, The Forgotten First, and how North Carolina A and T and Carolina helped to integrate the modern Navy.

March 21, 2015, 4 p.m.
Annie M. Brown Building, Ayden, NC
B-1 vet Huey Lawrence will be honored with a community service award from his home town of Ayden.

February 14, 2015, 2 p.m.
UNC-CH, Chapel Hill
An all day event: Adventures in Ideas: North Carolina and World War II
Author talks about B-1 at the popular Carolina series for lifelong learners and K-12 teachers.

February 9, 2015, noon
Beaufort, NC
Abe Thurman talked to county commissioners and others about his experiences with US Navy B-1 Band.
February 7, 2015, 2 p.m.
North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh
Alex Albright introduced and screened "Pitch a Boogie Woogie," the 1947 black cast film made in Greenville, NC, that was the origin of his interest in B-1. Several B-1 fellows were members of the Rhythm Vets, the Greensboro-based band which provided the soundtrack for this 25-minute musical comedy featurette, and their history is integral to that of this film.

Also attending was Tom "Skip" Foreman, Jr., the son of co-star Tom Foreman.

January 15, 2015, 7 p.m.
Daughters of the American Revolution meeting at Immanuel Baptist Church, 1101 S. Elm Street, Greenville, NC
Author talked about B-1 and The Forgotten First.

November 11, 2014, noon
Ledonia Wright African-American Cultural Center
Bloxton House, ECU
This Veterans Day program was a luncheon and roundtable discussion about B-1 with author Alex Albright and bandsmen Huey Lawrence and Abe Thurman.
Abe Thurman
photographed by Cliff Hollis, ECU News Bureau

Huey Lawrence with Tommy Bell
photographed by Cliff Hollis, ECU News Bureau

Here's a video of Huey tuning up.

August 24, 2014, noon
Morgan Family Reunion
Trenton, NC
Author Alex Albright talked B-1 history with the family of bandsmam James D. Morgan, Jr.

August 3, 2014
Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill
Author and vet Calvin Morrow discussed B-1 and its history at the conclusion of B-1's Chapel Hill reunion.

June 4, 2014
Scuppernong Books, 302 E. Elm St., Greensboro
B-1 discussion, questions & answers, and book-signing, with author, B-1 vet Calvin Morrow, and B-1 family.

Here's Calvin signing another book at Scuppernong Books in December.

June 2, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Rotary Club, Greenville, NC
Author Alex Albright talked about B-1 to the evening Rotary Club.

April 29, 2014
Craven Community College, New Bern, NC
B-1 vet Abe Thurman and Alex Albright discussed The Forgotten First in Barker Hall, Craven Community College's library.

May 28, 2014, 7 p.m.
2014 IBPA Benjamin Franklin awards ceremony
Kimmel Center's Rosenthal Pavilion, NYU, New York.
The Forgotten First won the Independent Book Publishers Association's silver medal as one of the three best-designed books published in 2013 by an independent publisher. Congratulations to the book's designer, Eva Roberts, of Indianapolis, Indiana!

April 17, 2014
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
This reading to benefit the Eastern NC Foodbank featured the six creative writing faculty from ECU's English department reading from their original work: Luke Whisnant, Amber Flora Thomas, John Hoppenthaler, Liza Wieland, Bob Siegel, and Alex Albright, who read excerpts from The Forgotten First.

January 17, 2014
Doubletree Inn, New Bern, NC
Book signing and reception for B-1 vets Huey Lawrence and Abe Thurman, author Alex Albright, and Tony Moseley, who was the first African-American band officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Also with jazzmen Buster Williams and Roger Humphries. Read about it!

December 21, 2013
University Book Exchange, Greenville, NC
Book signing with author, designer Eva Roberts, and B-1 vet Huey Lawrence.
The afternoon's treat was Huey Lawrence (pictured below) sitting in on a tune with the Quincy Jones Trio. Also as part of this event was ECU historian John Tucker, who signed copies of his two local history books, one on ECU and the other on John Kennedy's 1960 campaign travels in NC.

December 17, 2013
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh
Booksigning with author.

December 13, 2013
Greensboro, NC, Triad Stage
Frank Stasio interviewed B-1 vet Calvin Morrow and author Alex Albright for a live broadcast of "The State of Things."

December 13, 2013
Scuppernong Books, Greensboro
Publication party, with author and B-1 vet Calvin Morrow.

October 14, 2013
Chalmette High School, Chalmette, LA
Author discussion about B-1 at the high school where he taught U.S. History and English in 1980-81.

October 9, 2013
National World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA
Lagniappe lecture by author on B-1.

Index Click to access an index to The Forgotten First.

"Notes on sources" is under construction.

The CD
The Moonglowers Live & "Pitch a Boogie Woogie Soundtrack"
Published by R.A. Fountain February 2015
51 minutes
Produced by Lightnin' Wells & Jim Roshelli
Liner notes by Alex Albright
Manufactured by Blind Dog Studios, Crestwood, Kentucky
$15 retail, CD within vintage 1981 cover with liner notes insert

New CD Features Vintage Recording from B-1 Combo in Hawaii, 1944, and a 1947 Soundtrack Made by Band of B-1 and Great Lakes Vets

[Fountain, NC] A new 55-minute CD features vintage recordings by two North Carolina A and T jazz bands from the 1940s.

The Moonglowers Live, recorded on KGU-Honolulu radio in 1944, is a 30-minute radio transcription made by one of two big jazz bands formed from U.S. Navy B-1 Band while it was stationed in Hawaii during World War II.

The Moonglowers were comprised of B-1 bandsmen who were performing on their second instruments. Like the Manana Meteors, the first jazz band formed from B-1 at Pearl Harbor, they played engagements at USO clubs and occasions, officers dances, and radio shows broadcast on the Jungle Network throughout the Pacific Theater.

Songs performed by the Moonglowers are popular jazz tunes of the day, including Harry James' "2'oclock Jump" and Al Cooper's "Rhythm Doctor Man."

"It's a scratchy recording," said Alex Albright of R.A. Fountain, the Fountain, NC-based company that has released the CD. "But it's the only known recording from these very talented musicians, and once you get past the scratches, you can tell they could really play." Although the full B-1 band and the Manana Meteors also made several radio transcriptions, this one disc is all that's been discovered to date to document the music these talented musicians made.

Performing on the Moonglowers Live are bandleader Otto Harris on trumpet; John Carlson and Wray Herring on trombone; Raymond Pettiford and Willie Judkins on tenor sax; Alton Butler and Robert Holland on alto sax; Maurice Miles, Abe Thurman, and Royland Siler on trumpet; Jimmy Scott on bass; and Calvin "Boom Boom" Manuel on drums. Miles is also a featured vocalist.

All but three of the Moonglowers were students at A and T when they volunteered for the Navy in April 1942. Holland, from St. Louis, and Miles, from Ohio, joined B-1 after it arrived in Hawaii. They had been serving in a St. Louis-based Navy band that was broken up after its members refused to clean latrines. After the war, Holland became one of the best known jazzmen in St. Louis Manuel, from New Orleans, never officially joined B-1 but he played with the Moonglowers on many of their gigs.

B-1's first posting was in Chapel Hill, where it was the 44-piece regimental band attached to the Navy's preflight pilot training program on the university's campus. Integration pioneers on several fronts, B-1 bandsmen were the first African Americans to serve in the modern Navy at rank higher than messman. "They essentially integrated the ranks of the Navy," said Albright, "even though their service was in a segregated unit."

B-1 bandsmen were also the first Navy musicians to serve without formal training at the Navy School of Music, which during World War II was still a whites-only school. And they were the first blacks to be employed on the campus at UNC. "They worked there every day from July 1942 until their transfer to Hawaii in May 1944," said Albright, "but they had to march about a mile and a half every morning to get to work because they couldn't be housed on campus, and they had to march back to their barracks for lunch because they couldn't be fed on campus, either."

According to Albright, who also is the author The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy, the V-disc radio transcription was brought home to eastern Virginia from Hawaii by Wray Herring, who donated it to East Carolina University for its B-1 archives. It was re-mastered then by the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-CH for B-1's 2007 reunion at Chapel Hill.

The other half of this CD is the soundtrack recording made by the Rhythm Vets in 1947 for "Pitch a Boogie Woogie," a black cast musical featurette.

The Rhythm Vets were comprised of Navy band veterans who returned to Greensboro after the war. A few had already graduated from A and T but most returned to school there. The band was popular in the area through the 1950s and its personnel changed over the years. In 1947, its reputation as one of the best dance bands in the South led to the job in Greenville, North Carolina, where it was tasked with re-recording a soundtrack that hadn't taken when it was first recorded.

Thomas Gavin, who also played with the Manana Meteors, recalled the difficulty of their task in a 1987 UNC-TV documentary about the making of "Pitch": "Something had happened to the original soundtrack and so it had to be re-done. Mr. Warner showed us the film, and we had to make our music match the dancers. So it was like playing music to the dance instead of the way it usually is, when you dance to the music."

Because one of the regular alto sax players was unable to make the gig, a young Lou Donaldson was recruited for it. The soundtrack thus represents Donaldson's professional recording debut. It was released as a 33 rpm recording in 1986 and was re-mastered by Lightnin' Wells for this CD.

"There's one solo at the end, during a jam," said Albright, "where you can tell that's a young Sweet Papa Lou cutting loose."

Personnel on the recording are Jehovah Guy, drums; Raymond Pettiford, tenor sax; Donaldson and Gavin, alto sax; Carl Foster, piano; Walter Carlson, trumpet; and Sylvester "Tabu" Mike, vocalist.

Guy, Donaldson, and Foster were all Navy bandsmen who trained at Great Lakes, Illinois, where all the Navy’s bandsmen except B-1 trained. Tabu Mike, from Steubenville, Ohio, was also an A and T football player.

The soundtrack songs were all written by William Lord, who with his brother, John Warner, had formed Lord-Warmer Pictures to make and distribute what would become their only commercially released movie.

According to Albright, "Pitch" was made at the end of the race film era. "It was one of the last movies made in America that was intended really only for black audiences," he said. It was restored by the American Film Institute in 1985 as part of its national effort to rescue nearly lost race movies, and it re-premiered in Greenville in 1986 in its first ever showing to an integrated audience.

The re-premier also featured a Rhythm Vets reunion and sparked a series of other gigs for the band throughout the state. Of over 5,000 African Americans who served as musicians in the Navy during World War II, only nine are known to still be living. They include B-1 bandsmen Calvin Morrow of Greensboro and two former Rhythm Vets, Huey Lawrence of Ayden and Abe Thurman of Beaufort. The only two still performing professionally are Donaldson, who lives in New York, and trombonist Wendell Eugene of New Orleans, where he plays regularly at the Palm Court Cafe.

"The Moonglowers Live / 'Pitch a Boogie Woogie' Soundtrack" is available for purchase at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro and online from R.A. Fountain at www.rafountain.com/store. Its vintage packaging includes a descriptive record sleeve from the 1986 soundtrack recording with a separate historical narrative insert that further details the movie's history. Retail price is $12.

View "Pitch a Boogie Woogie" as part of the 1987 UNC-TV documentary "Boogie in Black and White"

View a 1986 Interview with Lou Donaldson discussing his role in the movie and his early life in North Carolina.