BCC to welcome Albright to discuss the B-1 Naval Band

By: Cathy Kinlaw - Bladen Community College

DUBLIN — On Tuesday at 11 a.m., Bladen Community College will welcome author, editor, playwright, and college professor, Alex Albright to the campus library (building 7) as part of the annual Writers Series hosted by the college.

Albright will speak about the infamous World War II 45-piece regimental Navy band called the B-1. Comprised of black students attending North Carolina A&T, the men became the first African Americans to serve in the Navy at a rank higher than messman in the modern Navy.

In his 2013 book, “The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy,” Albright describes the band as frontline pioneers in breaking the Navy’s color barriers at a time when racial unrest prevailed.

In 1942, the B-1 musicians served at the Navy preflight training school in Chapel Hill where they had to comply with strict segregation laws. Every morning, the musicians would march two miles to the naval campus, play for the raising of the colors for the all-white cadets, and march back to their quarters for lunch. As was the custom of the time, blacks could not be served lunch on the whites-only campus.

Albright is a native of Graham and earned a bachelor of art at UNC-Chapel Hill and a master of fine art at UNC-Greensboro. Albright worked in bookstores in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Gastonia before joining the faculty at East Carolina University, where he has taught English and creative writing since 1981.

Albright was the founding editor of the North Carolina Literary Review. He has written and co-produced two music programs. The UNC-TV documentary Boogie in Black and White (1988) is about the making and restoring of the 1947 black cast musical comedy Pitch a Boogie Woogie. Coming into Freedom – The End of the Civil War in Eastern North Carolina is a one-woman show which was performed by Louise Anderson and the North Carolina Symphony in 1990.

Albright has edited numerous poetry publications including Leaves of Greens: The Collard Poems (1984), Dreaming the Blues: Poems from Martin County Prison (1984), The North Carolina Poems (1994), and Mule Poems (2010).

His literary awards include the Jack Kerouack Literary Prize, the 1998 R. Hunt Parker Award for lifetime contributions to North Carolina literature, and the Roberts Award for literary inspiration. He and his wife Elizabeth were awarded the 2012 Brown-Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society.

Albright lives in Fountain with Elizabeth and their son Silas, where they operate the R.A. Fountain General Store.

This program is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Bladen Community College. The event is free and open to the public.

For information about the BCC Writers Series, contact Joyce Bahhouth at 910-879-5540.

Cathy Kinlaw is the public information officer for Bladen Community College.

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Cathy Kinlaw

Bladen Community College