Merriam Press Military Mograph 98. Third Edition (February 2013). For 14 years, from 1919 to 1933, the U.S. Navy stopped recruiting Blacks, and worked to phase out those who still remained, their duties taken over mostly by Filipis. When, in 1933, Blacks were finally allowed back into the Navy, Lloyd Prewitt was one of the first to volunteer. His dedicated service, from 1933 to 1955, proved that Black sailors could perform whatever was asked of them in peacetime and combat, and paved the way for future generations of Black sailors. African-Americans have always played a valuable role and contributed mightily when it comes to fighting in America's wars. They were there at the outset during the American Revolution, serving alongside their white comrades-in-arms in a fight for freedom where even their own freedom was t so assured, and they are fighting to this day in the war in Iraq, playing a part in bringing democracy to those who have never kwn what freedom really means. Despite this long history of service, few today realize that there was a dark time in our nation's history between the two world wars when the service of African-Americans in the military, especially the United States Navy, was longer desired. For fourteen years, from 1919 to 1933, the United States Navy stopped the recruiting of Black servicemen, and worked to phase out those African-Americans who still remained in their ranks. That the navy nearly succeeded in their efforts, though sad, is t all that surprising. Indeed, the period from 1919-1933 was a dark and dismal period in our nation's history. While ecomic ruin reigned supreme with the stock market crash in 1929, and the ensuing Great Depression, social issues were also approaching a critical point. Racism and jim crow legislation reigned supreme in the south and, as if this weren't eugh, incidents of lynching rose dramatically. Indeed, it was t an easy time to be Black; jobs were hard to come by, and the trees that bore their strange fruit at the end of a rope were all too common. However, the time would eventually come when the situation would change. With the rise of worldwide fascism in the early 1930s, the United States began, ever so slowly, to prepare itself for the possibility of ather war. For the United States Navy, the time came when they once again needed African-American sailors. The mess duties to which they had been previously assigned had been, in 1919, fully given over to men mostly from the Philippine Islands. But, this source of manpower eventually declined and Blacks were once again to be accepted into the navy, even if it wasn't with entirely open arms. When, in 1933, African-Americans were finally allowed back into the United States Navy on a limited basis, Lloyd Prewitt was one of the very first such men to volunteer for duty. His dedicated service to our country, quietly performed but heroic just the same, proved that African-American sailors could perform whatever was asked of them in peacetime and combat, and paved the way for future generations of Black sailors. First Man Back is his story. 33 photos.