R.A. Fountain home page
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 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

B-1's service and historical significance will be commemorated with the installation of a permanent historical marker that will be formally dedicated on May 27. North Carolina's historical marker program is administered by the state's Department of Cultural Resources and Department of Transportation. Since 1935, the program has erected over 1,500 state highway historical markers.

Dedication ceremonies for the B-1 marker will be at the intersection of West Franklin Street and South Roberson Street in Chapel Hill at 10 a.m on Saturday, May 27. The band was quartered during World War II at the Hargraves Center, at 216 N. Roberson Street. It was constructed during the first months of World War II as a barracks for the B-1 bandsmen, who were attached to the Navy's preflight school on the UNC campus. State segregationist laws, however, forbade the black bandsmen from being housed on campus. From Hargraves, they marched to Carolina's campus for work in daily parades that  thrilled their neighbors.

Coming in August 2017, in Washington, DC. Details are forthcoming.

Recent publications about B-1
Two more 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.

Where to find copies of The Forgotten First
Follow this link to the R.A. Fountain estore

also at these North Carolina locations:
Quail Ridge Books, 3522 Wade Avenue
North Carolina Museum of History Gift Shop, 5 E. Edenton St.

Scuppernong Books, 302 E. Elm St.

Chapel Hill
Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

University Book Exchange, 516 Cotanche St.

Woodside Antiques, 3760 S. Main St.

Fountain General Store, 6754 E. Wilson St.

also at Amazon.com

Call 252.749.7974 for further information.

Media Events & book publicity
Monday, January 23, 2017 6:30 p.m.
Wilson County Library
249 W. Nash St., Wilson
Author Alex Albright discusses how B-1 integrated the U.S. Navy as well as the campus at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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

Greenville (NC) Daily Reflector, February 1, 2014: Read it!
by Ginger Livingston with photos by Aileen Devlin
This article was subsequently picked up the Associated Press and other press and internet news agencies and has since appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington (DC) Times, Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, New Pittsburgh Courier, Kansas City Star, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News and Observer, Greensboro News and Record, Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram, Sanford (NC) Herald, Stars and Stripes, NC News Feed, US News/Consumer Reports, schema-root.org: in support of global democracy, and World News.com.

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.

Media Events & book publicity
past events
August 5-7, 2016: B-1 bandsmen, their families and friends, celebrated the 74th anniversary of their enlistmentin May 1942 as the first African Americans to serve in the modern Navy at rank other than messman.

As part of this reunion, bandsmen and families met the public at "Keeping the Legacy Alive," a free event at the Hargraves Center (216 N. Roberson St.) in Chapel Hill. 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Hargraves Center, now a rec center, was constructed during the first months of World War II as a barracks for the B-1 bandsmen, who were attached to the Navy's preflight school on the UNC campus. State segregationist laws, however, forbade the black bandsmen from being housed on campus. From Hargraves, they marched to Carolina's campus for work in daily parades that thrilled their neighbors.

In addition, Calvin Morrow and Simeon Holloway were featured guests on WCHL-Radio's "Talk of the Town."

Thursday, December 10, 2015 7 p.m.
Durham County Library
300 N. Roxboro St., Durham
B-1 vets Calvin Morrow and John Mason join 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., at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, 814 Market St. $7 in advance, $9 at the door

The screening was part of the 2015 Cape Fear Independent Film Festival and was introduced by Alex Albright, whose introduction to B-1 came during research to document the making of "Pitch" in 1947. For details

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 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 latest 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.