The Lawyer’s Well-Being Brief

How 13 individuals you have probably never heard of, “The Golden 13,” can help us on our well-being journey

Marc W. Crayton

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“Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart”- Drake

Welcome back or welcome to, the Lawyer’s Well-being Brief. Every week, I share insights on ways to improve our well-being. This week I am sharing a story of resilience, perseverance, and determination, three characteristics that we can use to help us as we strive to achieve our well-being goals.

Officer positions in the U.S. Navy had previously been off-limits to African Americans. From 1893 onwards, African Americans could only join the Navy’s Messman’s and Steward’s branches, which not only segregated African Americans from the rest of the Navy community but also precluded them from becoming commissioned officers.

In June 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order (8802) prohibiting ethnic and racial discrimination by federal agencies or contractors involved in the defense industry.

In April 1942, thanks to protests and pressure from civil rights leaders and the African American press, the Navy allowed black men into the general service ratings for the first time.

Responding to pressure from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Adlai Stevenson, in January 1944, the Navy began an officer training course for 16 African American enlisted men at Camp Robert Smalls, Recruit Training Center Great Lakes (now known as Great Lakes Naval Training Station), in Illinois.

In January 1944, there were nearly 100,000 Black Sailors in the United States Navy, but none were officers. The sixteen African American enlisted men were about to change that.

These men, who before the war had been metalsmiths, teachers, lawyers, and college students — the children and grandchildren of slaves who had seen a family member lynched and been denied jobs because of their skin color — would have to prove that African American men had the temperament for command and the leadership qualities necessary to wear the gold stripes.

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Marc W. Crayton

I help newer, younger lawyers make better well-being decisions so that they can thrive personally and professionally. Forward, always!