Ever since 15-year-old powder boy James Forten fought aboard the privateer Royal Louis in the American Revolution, African Americans have served in the country's merchant marine. But it was not until 150 years later that an African American -- Hugh Malzac --rose to the rank of Master.
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.