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Hugh Mulzac: First Black Captain of a WW2 Liberty Ship

Updated on October 03, 2016
Captain Hugh Mulzac
Captain Hugh Mulzac | Source

Hugh Nathaniel Mulzac (1886-1971) was a master seaman, well qualified to command a merchant vessel. He had many years of sea duty aboard British, Norwegian, and American merchantmen. After studying at the Swansea Nautical College in South Wales, he earned a mate’s license in 1910, qualifying him to be second in command. With those credentials he was able to serve as a deck officer on four ships during World War I. Then, in 1920 he passed the U. S. shipmaster exam with a perfect score of 100 and earned a master’s rating. He was now fully qualified to serve as the captain of a vessel in the United States Merchant Marine.

A captain who could only find work as a cook

But there was one apparently insurmountable problem: Hugh Mulzac was black. Qualified as he was to command an entire ship, the only jobs he could get at sea were in the galley. For two decades, Hugh Mulzac was the most over-qualified ship’s cook in maritime history. (He made the most of that limitation by becoming an acknowledged expert in shipboard food service management).

German U-boats take a toll

But then came World War II. When America entered the war in December of 1941, Germany immediately began stationing submarines off the East Coast of the United States to sink supply ships headed for Europe. The U-boats were very successful. In 1942 an average of 33 Allied ships were sunk per week.

SS Pennsylvania Sun, torpedoed by a German submarine, July 1942
SS Pennsylvania Sun, torpedoed by a German submarine, July 1942 | Source
U-Boat captain and crew, 1941
U-Boat captain and crew, 1941 | Source

Serving as an auxiliary to the US Navy in time of war, the Merchant Marine suffered the greatest percentage loss of any branch of the American military. Those losses were tragic for the seamen who died and their families. And the loss of such a large number of cargo vessels, putting in jeopardy the ability of “the arsenal of democracy” to get troops and war materiel to the European theater, was potentially devastating to the Allied war effort.

But, ironically, it was those heavy losses in both ships and men that finally gave Hugh Mulzac his opportunity to become the ship’s captain he was so well qualified to be.

The shortage of ships and of seamen causes a change in racial attitudes

It was clear that if the U. S. and its Allies were to receive the supplies needed to carry on the war, thousands of new cargo vessels would have to be put afloat. That need was filled through the famous “Liberty Ship” program. These vessels, all built to the same standardized plan, were designed to be mass produced as quickly as possible. By war’s end, 2,711 of them would be launched.

Building Liberty Ships in Georgia

But it was not only ships that had to be provided in massive numbers. Each ship had to be manned by a crew of trained seamen. And with the pool of qualified merchant sailors being rapidly diminished by losses to the U-boats, the Merchant Marine was finally pushed to the point of employing experienced seamen wherever they could be found. Even if they happened to be black.

So, it came about that in 1942, Hugh Mulzac, with qualifications far exceeding those of anyone still on shore by that point, was finally offered command of a ship. But there was still a problem so significant that Mulzac initially refused the offer. The U.S. Maritime Commission wanted him to captain a vessel with a segregated, all-black crew. And Hugh Mulzac would have none of it.

A seaman becomes an activist for racial equality

Born on March 26, 1886 in the British West Indies, Hugh Mulzac had first come to the United States as a crewman aboard a Norwegian vessel that landed in North Carolina. It was then, as he says in his autobiography A Star to Steer By, that he was first confronted with the "barbarous customs of our northern neighbors."

Although he immigrated to the United States in 1911, becoming a citizen in 1918, Mulzac never got over his abhorrence of the “barbarous customs” of race prejudice and segregation that afflicted his new homeland, and absolutely refused to willingly participate in perpetuating that evil system. He would stick by that determination even when it seemed doing so would prevent him from ever fulfilling his dream.

A Liberty Ship at sea in 1942
A Liberty Ship at sea in 1942 | Source

In 1920 Mulzac served as mate on the SS Yarmouth, a ship of African American activist Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line. Although he briefly became the captain of the Yarmouth, he grew disillusioned with the way Garvey’s shipping company was managed (it went out of business in 1922). Mulzac resigned in 1921 to start his own maritime school. That only lasted a year, and Mulzac soon found himself once again at sea, relegated to the galleys of the ships he served on.

With his first-hand experience of the pernicious effects of racial prejudice in the shipping industry, Mulzac in 1937 became a founding member of the National Maritime Union. There was one key issue that led Mulzac to involve himself in the labor movement. “Most important for me,” he said, “was the inclusion of a clause in the constitution providing that there should be no discrimination against any union member because of his race, color, political creed, religion, or national origin. This was a milestone in the history of the waterfront…it was the first maritime union to establish this basic principle and to enforce it."

“Under no circumstances will I command a Jim Crow vessel”

With this commitment to racial equality on the seas, Hugh Mulzac was in no humor to compromise about shipboard segregation. When, in 1942 at the age of 56, he was offered what would likely be his last opportunity to command a vessel, but with the proviso that there must be no race mixing among the crew, Mulzac resolutely stuck by his refusal to captain a segregated ship. “Under no circumstances will I command a Jim Crow vessel,” he told the Maritime Commission, and turned down the offer.

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He later expressed his outrage in his autobiography:

If there was ever a moment when the real meaning of democracy could and had to be demonstrated to the peoples of the world, the moment was now! And what was America's answer in this hour of need? A Jim Crow ship! Named for a Negro, christened by a Negro, captained by a Negro, and no doubt manned by Negroes!

Finally, desperate for qualified officers, and spurred on by protests by the NAACP and other black organizations, the Maritime Commission relented and dropped their insistence on segregation. Hugh Mulzac would finally have his ship, and an integrated crew with it.

Proud workmen helping build the Booker T. Washington
Proud workmen helping build the Booker T. Washington | Source

The SS Booker T. Washington: first Liberty Ship named for an African American

The ship Captain Mulzac would command was a pioneer for racial equity in its own right. Each Liberty Ship was named for some prominent American. Out of the total of 2,711, seventeen would be named for African Americans. The very first of these was the SS Booker T. Washington.

From the moment of its naming, the Booker T. Washington was a source of pride and hope, and as importantly, jobs for the African American community. It was built by racially mixed construction crews, many of whom were gaining access, for the first time in their lives, to training for something beyond menial jobs. The shipyard in Richmond, California where the Booker T. Washington was constructed eventually employed 6000 African American workers, 1000 of them women.

Original 1942 caption: Jesse Kermit Lucas, experienced Negro welder at the California Shipbuilding Corporation's yards, is shown instructing his white welder apprentice, Rodney Gail Chesney, as the two work on the "Booker T. Washington"
Original 1942 caption: Jesse Kermit Lucas, experienced Negro welder at the California Shipbuilding Corporation's yards, is shown instructing his white welder apprentice, Rodney Gail Chesney, as the two work on the "Booker T. Washington" | Source

The SS Booker T. Washington

 
 
Keel laid
August 19, 1942
Launched
September 29, 1942
Completed
October 17, 1942
Displacement
14,245 tons
Length
441 feet
Speed
11 knots
Scrapped
1969

Massive press coverage of the new ship and her new captain

At a time when the U. S. Navy would allow black sailors to serve only as stewards, the story of the Booker T. Washington and her African American skipper received wide coverage. For example, the October 5, 1942 issue of Time Magazine had the following story:

Slight, grizzled Hugh Mulzac, ex-seaman, ex-mess boy, was catapulted front and center last week to become a Symbol of Negro participation in the war. When the Liberty freighter Booker T. Washington goes into service from California Shipbuilding's Los Angeles yard in mid-October, the Maritime Commission decided, she will be commanded by a British West Indies-born Brooklyn man, the first Negro to hold a U. S. master's certificate and the first to command a 10,500-ton ship.

Captain Mulzac not only promised that he would be able to get qualified Negro officers to serve under him but said that he knew white as well as Negro crewmen willing to serve under him—for the Booker T. is not to be a Jim Crow ship. The Booker T. (for Taliaferro) will serve not only in the war of ocean transport but in the war against race discrimination.

Captain Mulzac was as good as his word. The crew of 81 he assembled consisted of 18 different nationalities from eight nations and thirteen American states. The captain later noted in a newspaper article that among the crew were white seamen from Florida and Texas.

“They were the finest fellows I ever sailed with,” Captain Mulzac said, “and their attitudes were much different from that of the Southerners you meet in those States.”

The Booker T. Washington is launched

Marian Anderson (center), Mary McLeod Bethune (left), and other dignitaries at the launching of the Booker T. Washington
Marian Anderson (center), Mary McLeod Bethune (left), and other dignitaries at the launching of the Booker T. Washington | Source

The launching of the ship, on September 29, 1942, was an occasion of deep significance and celebration for the entire African American community. The event was front page news in the black press all across the nation. A headline in the Baltimore Afro-American trumpeted, “Launching Called Morale-Building Show of Democracy.”

Not only did the Afro-American do full-page spreads on the story, it went so far as to pay the way of Captain Mulzac’s daughter from Baltimore to the Wilmington, California launch site, and then featured her first-person account of her “Thrilling Transcontinental Flight.”

Marian Anderson christens the Booker T. Washington
Marian Anderson christens the Booker T. Washington | Source

Another luminary who had her way paid to the launching was Miss Louise Washington, granddaughter of Booker T. Washington. An employee of the US Department of Agriculture, she was sent to the event by the Maritime Commission.

Famed contralto Marian Anderson, accompanied by pioneer educator Mary McLeod Bethune and other prominent dignitaries, christened the new vessel. Ruby Berkley Goodwin later wrote a poem about the occasion:

We Launched A Ship - Ruby Berkley Goodwin

On one never-to-be-forgotten day, we launched a ship.
The full-throated voice of Marian Anderson proclaimed,
“I christen thee Booker T. Washington.”
A bottle broke and champagne sprayed the prow
Of the giant liberty ship as she slid proudly down the ways
And sat serenely on the broad face of the ocean.

. . .

We launched a ship –
A ship with a glorious mission,
And it became the symbol of a
Dawning brotherhood throughout the world.

SS Booker T. Washington
SS Booker T. Washington | Source

The one who was perhaps most deeply affected by the launching of the Booker T. Washington was Captain Hugh Mulzac himself. He later wrote:

Everything I ever was, stood for, fought for, dreamed of, came into focus that day. The concrete evidence of the achievement gives one's strivings legitimacy, proves that the ambitions were valid, the struggle worthwhile. Being prevented for those twenty-four years from doing the work for which I was trained had robbed life of its most essential meaning. Now at last I could use my training and capabilities fully. It was like being born anew.

Captain Mulzac and his officers after arriving in England on the Booker T. Washington's maiden voyage
Captain Mulzac and his officers after arriving in England on the Booker T. Washington's maiden voyage | Source

World-wide impact

The impact of the Booker T. Washington entering into the maritime service with the first ever black captain in United States Merchant Marine history was felt all around the world. For example, one event that Captain Mulzac considered a highlight of the ship’s maiden voyage happened when they reached Panama. The Baltimore Afro-American tells the story in its January 9, 1943 issue:

When they first dropped anchor in (the) Panama Canal Zone, all of the colored schools closed to celebrate the arrival of the Booker T. Washington and the first colored skipper to be in complete charge of a United States ship.

"Democracy In Action" by Charles Henry Alston
"Democracy In Action" by Charles Henry Alston | Source

An exemplary record of war-time service

Starting with its first trans-Atlantic crossing early in 1943, the Booker T. Washington and her captain built an outstanding record. They made 22 successful round trips from the US to the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters of war, ferrying 18,000 troops and thousands of tons of supplies, including ammunition, airplanes, tanks, locomotives, jeeps, and more.

Each Liberty Ship was armed with deck guns and antiaircraft guns manned by crews provided by the Navy. The Booker T. Washington was in action against the enemy several times, and is credited with shooting down two enemy airplanes. But not one of her own crew was lost.

Captain Mulzac himself was highly esteemed by his crew. The Baltimore Afro-American of January 16, 1943 records one crewman’s reaction after the Booker T. Washington’s first voyage. Harry Alexander, described as a white deck engineer, said:

I’ve been on ships where the captains set up nights thinking of things to do to irritate the crew. Our old man spends his time teaching navigation.

That was not, by any means, an isolated expression of regard. A January 16, 1964 article in the Village Voice reporting on an exhibition of Captain Mulzac’s paintings, records some memories from another of the skipper’s former crew members. Irwin Rosenhouse, whose gallery was hosting the event, recalled the impact his old commanding officer had made on him:

“The Booker T. was the only ship I've ever been on which had a sense of purpose from the top down," Rosenhouse told The Voice. He recalled the classes in seamanship, in art, and in international affairs, as well as the tongue-lashing he'd received when he chose to stand watch on a stormy night inside.

Captain Mulzac and the Booker T. Washington became an inspiration to young people of color, a signal that they, too, could dream and through hard work, see those dreams fulfilled. Joseph B. Williams, for example, served under Captain Mulzac as a cadet-in-training. He would go on to become the first African-American to graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. For him the captain was a "demanding taskmaster" who taught him "how to be a qualified officer."

Another young man influenced by the example of the Washington and her captain was 16-year old Merle Milton of Connersville, Indiana. He told MAST Magazine in 1944:

Right now I'm shipping out as an ordinary seaman, but I don't expect to stay that way for long. I want to go to officers' school and the proposed Seamen's Bill of Rights provides for that. Who knows, maybe I'll get a master's license some day like Captain Hugh Mulzac on the SS Booker T. Washington.

The aftermath of the war

Despite the acclaim garnered by Captain Mulzac for his performance on the bridge of the Booker T. Washington, once the war was over, race prejudice came roaring back.

In 1947 the Booker T. was turned back over to the Maritime Commission. Captain Mulzac went into the hospital for a leg operation. When he emerged, he found himself, as he put it, “on the beach” again. There were no maritime jobs for him or any of the other black officers who had served with such distinction during the war. Hugh Mulzac would never again command a ship.

Captain Mulzac Opens Art Show
Captain Mulzac Opens Art Show | Source

It got worse. During the McCarthy era, Mulzac’s labor activism was used against him by Red-baiters. In 1950 he ran for President of the borough of Queens in New York City, getting a respectable 15,500 votes. But he had run on the ticket of the American Labor Party, which some politicians accused of being influenced by Communists. All this resulted in Mulzac being branded a security risk, and his master’s license was suspended. He fought that edict in court, and in 1960 a federal judge restored his license. That allowed him, at age 74, to once again go to sea, serving not as a captain, but as a night mate.

But Captain Mulzac never allowed the bigotry that confronted him to control his life. He had started painting during the last voyage of the Booker T. Washington. Now he became more serious about it. His work was exhibited in a number of galleries in New York City to very positive reviews.

Legacy

Hugh Mulzac was certainly a pioneer for racial justice. He, along with the multi-racial crew of the Booker T. Washington, demonstrated what people of color could accomplish when given the chance, and that people of all races can live and work together in harmony.

“They said it wouldn’t work, but it did,” he said.

But beyond that tremendous accomplishment against great odds, Hugh Mulzac knew that his life and career were dedicated to an even bigger idea. He said,

I had to begin to understand that discrimination was not only my problem, but a fight of the whole colored race - and of whites too, for that matter, though precious few seemed to realize it.

For his willingness to put his career on the line to defend the principle that prejudice and discrimination have no place in a democratic society, we all owe Hugh Mulzac a well deserved vote of thanks.

Captain Hugh Mulzac died in East Meadow, NY on January 30, 1971 at the age of 84.

© 2013 Ronald E. Franklin

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    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

      An interesting well presented article. A step forward for equality.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Colleen. I think Hugh Mulzac was one of the unsung pioneers whose story should not be lost.

    • SamitaJassi profile image

      Samita Sharma 3 years ago from Chandigarh

      Well done my friend; great message for millions of people. :)

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, SamitaJassi. It's a message that must be repeated many times and in many ways.

    • Breatheeasy3 profile image

      Breatheeasy3 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for this moment and little known fact in 'black history'. Very informative!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Breatheeasy3. I think Hugh Mulzac's story deserves to be widely known. There's a lot of inspiration in it.

    • profile image

      cjbehr 3 years ago

      Stellar, stellar hub - congrats on your well-deserved HOTD!!! A most interesting and necessary story to tell. Best wishes!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, cjbehr! Capt. Mulzac showed grace and courage that should be better known.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 3 years ago from Vernon British Columbia Canada

      I love reading stories of courageous people who change history. Hugh Mulzac is a true hero, and I'm so glad you shared his life with us.

    • profile image

      Im Heaven 3 years ago

      Thank you Ron Elfan for your informative column on Hugh Mulzac & the first Black Captain of a WW2 & one of the Liberty Ships. Its always nice to read about a WW facets. I'm really interested in WW2. I'm interested in what happened to all the Black Airmen, Navy & Soldiers experiences in WW1 & WW2. You always read about how heroic the Europeans were and how many jews were killed. Theres almost nothing about the 150.00 Blacks that lived in Paris when the Germans entered the City. I know of only 1 war memorials in the UK dedicated to foreigners troops who fought alongside the europeans against the Nizi's. Its really funny that after the war nothing changed for the Afro Americans. I also know that the first Blackman was killed in the UK Bristol by a white US MP for fraternizing with a white lady my aunt.

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 3 years ago from S. Florida

      A well-deserved hub of the day! I'm tweeting it too.

      I am acquiring a decent basic grasp of the civil rights movement of the 1960s: Your hubs remind me how long the struggle has been going on.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, KoraleeP. For me, history is all about the people. There are so many profiles in courage that have essentially been forgotten, and need to be brought to light again.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Im Heaven. You are right about there being many stories of blacks in WW1 and WW2 that should be more widely known. So much that should have been highlighted at the time, but wasn’t. Welcome to HP!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, KrisL. I'm glad these hubs have proven helpful. I have been so inspired myself by the many unsung heroes whose lonely courage helped bring us to where we are today. And the struggle continues.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Really cool! I'm a history teacher and I didn't know about this. The military really started integration in American society (as I'm sure you know) and definitely lead the way. My man's a Navy officer and he is not caucasian - people like Hugh Mulzac helped pave the way for his career!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Natasha. It's interesting that as a history teacher you didn't know of Capt. Mulzac's story. I wonder if it is actually being included in any WW2 history courses. It should be! I hope your student teaching goes well.

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 3 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      What a a great article! I'm a history buff, and my dad went to the Pacific theater on a Liberty ship; brought him home too. How good to hear this story of a determined sailor!

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I admire Hugh Mulzac's bravery and tenacity in paving the way for other African Americans. Good job and congrats on HOTD.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Your Cousins. Every time I re-read his story, I'm inspired by Hugh Mulzac's commitment and courage.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      This was a beautiful writing to commemorate Veterans Day. What will always count is a person's qualification to perform. Captain Hugh Mulzak deserves all the accolades that he is given. He served to protect the welfare of America and any other country under the umbrella of justice and freedom.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, krillco. I wonder if your dad had any Liberty ship stories to tell.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Ron, BIG congrats on Hub of the Day! All your hubs are so well written and researched, this one included. (And it's really appropriate for Veteran's Day today.) Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    • RonElFran profile image
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      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, word55. And you are so right. We owe a major debt of gratitude to people like Capt. Mulzac, and so many others in our armed services then and today, many of whom have not only had to fight the enemy in front, but prejudice in the rear. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

    • RonElFran profile image
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      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, heidithorne. I really appreciate the encouraging words.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      How appropriate that your hub highlighting Hugh Mulzac is given Hub of the Day on Veterans' Day. Thanks for this information. It has caused me to want to read more about the life of this captain of the Booker T. Washington. Congrats on your award! Want to come back and read through the comments soon.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Great write! congratulations for the HOTD. Real life stories like this, are inspirational and motivating, especially to youngsters who believe that they will never make a difference.

      The courage of the black Americans who did so much for their country, even as that country denied them their rights at every turn, deserves to have their stories known. It's good to see that people like Capt. Mulzac and the Tuskegee airmen are finally getting the recognition they so deserve and are taking their place in history, their courage and determination are inspirational to us all.

      An excellent write.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 3 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      A tremendous history you've presented us. Thanks so much!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, RTalloni. Speaking of Veterans Day, it's ironic and tragic that members of the Merchant Marine, white and black, who served in WW2, and who suffered greater losses than any other branch of the service, were not accorded veteran status until 1988. That, of course, was not until many of them, including Hugh Mulzac, had already died. Hard to understand!

    • RonElFran profile image
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      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks so much, tobusiness. I think you are exactly right. Young people today desperately need to have such role models held up to them.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, ithabise. It's a history not to be forgotten.

    • Oswalda Purcell profile image

      Oswalda Purcell 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      What a brilliant mind! Had no idea. Thanks for enlightening :)

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Oswalda Purcell. It's a story that should be much better known than it is.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

      RonElFran,

      You wrote, "For two decades, Hugh Mulzac was the most over-qualified ship’s cook in maritime history. (He made the most of that limitation by becoming an acknowledged expert in shipboard food service management)."

      Now, that was a MAN! He was blocked from his area of expertise, but he did not give up. He "brightened the corner where" he was. Then, he was blessed with more. Brilliant!

      I had never heard of this man. New learning is what I like best about HubPages, and writers like you help to make that possible. I thank you for sharing this sketch of Hugh Mulzac's life. I will share, too. I am voting up and clicking the good buttons.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Levertis. The point you've picked up on is a great one. I wish many young people today could be shown that even when you are not treated fairly, you can still overcome if you don't give in. Hugh Mulzac is a great role model in that regard.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Congratulations, Ron, on receiving this very well-deserved HOTD. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Captain Mulzac as the first Black sea captain. Reading it made me feel very proud. His story is informative, educational, and very compelling. I had never heard of him. His story needed to be told and you have done an excellent job. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and sharing!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks so much, Janis. "Compelling" is a good term for this story. Wouldn't it be great if somebody finally decided to make a movie about it!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD!!

      What a fascinating story. I had not heard of this before, and I applaud you for bringing it out into the mainstream. What a courageous gentleman he was!

      Voted up, interesting, beautiful, awesome and shared.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, DzyMsLizzy. Yes, I think Capt. Mulzac's courage to stick to his principles even if it cost him ever getting a ship is one of the greatest aspects of his story.

    • profile image

      Harishprasad 3 years ago

      The story of Huge Mulzac reminds me the story of Gandhi. Reading the story, I felt as if it was a story of an accomplished saint. US is US because of the vision and valiant efforts of a person like Huge Mulzac. I salute this extraordinary and resolute guy who contritubuted greatly towards gaining equality of the races that we witness today. Ron ELFran wrote the piece so beautifully that tears rolled down my eyes when I finished the story. I really appreciate this wonderful Hub.

    • Celiegirl profile image

      Celiegirl 3 years ago

      Thanks so much i love discovering legacies of this sort, inspiring! Question why didn't he pursue career with the British Navy?

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India

      I think there may be numerous such wonderful personalities that are unknown to the world as yet. RonELFran has done a tremendous good job in brining to the light the life story of such a great man. Thank you very much.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Harishprasad. I think you're right - there are many such stories still to be told.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      I very much appreciate this Hub and have read it twice so far, rating it Up and all but funny. Unfair treatment angers me, but for the Captain to go back at age 74 and even consider a position as night mate shows his strength of character. Bigotry has prevented the military and employers from benefiting from the full talents of a lot of very good people at the same time that its hurts the targets even more.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Nice Hub, good to know about historic achievement of black people, other than what is constantly taught in schools.

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 3 years ago

      Awesome. The man had good life attitude. Whatever difficulty he faced, he never gave up on the way to be somebody.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks so much, Patty. I'm glad Capt. Mulzac's story was meaningful to you. I think his integrity and refusal to be cowed by injustice are timeless qualities that we all need to celebrate.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, Hezekiah. I'm pretty sure Capt. Mulzac's story isn't being taught in WW2 history classes, but it should be!

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thank you, Hui (蕙). Capt. Mulzac's refusal to give in to injustice is an example still much needed today.

    • RonElFran profile image
      Author

      Ronald E. Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks for your comment, Celiegirl. And I think your question is a good one; it's one I had myself. I came to the conclusion that with all its faults, Hugh Mulzac still saw the US as a land of opportunity. I'm not sure whether at that time the British were any more open to a black man being in charge of a ship than the US was.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This was so interesting and I sure enjoyed learning about Hugh Mulzac. Thank you.

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      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks, OhMe. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Captain Mulzac's story remains an inspiring one to me, no matter how many times I revisit it.

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      MULZAC 2 years ago

      I am grateful for who ever spent this time on my great grand uncles review JULIANNE MULZAC

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      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thank you, Julianne. Your great grand uncle's story is one well worth the telling, and well worth being remembered.

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