Benjamin O. Davis became the first black general in the U.S. Army, setting a precedent his son would build on

Connelly, Jack
July 2006
Military History;Jul/Aug2006, Vol. 23 Issue 5, p66
The article profiles Benjamin O. Davis, the first black general in the U.S. Army. He had set a precedent his son would build on. In 1898 Davis enlisted in the U.S. Army and tried to enter the Military Academy at West Point, New York His application was rejected--President William McKinley's staff explained that it was not politically feasible at that time. Disappointed at being denied the opportunity to lead troops in combat, Davis was also incensed to read an article in the Army and Navy Journal alleging that blacks were not promoted because they were deficient in moral fiber, rendering them unfit as officers and leaders of men. In 1929 the elder Davis began a campaign to gain his son admittance to West Point. In spite of isolation from the white-dominated institution, designed to force an unwelcome cadet into resigning, the junior Davis persevered. At the same time, he applied to the U.S. Army Air Corps, only to be rejected. In 1936 Davis emerged from his ordeal 35th in a class of 276, West Point's fourth black graduate and its first since 1889.


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