From 1900 to 1932, no African American cadet matriculated at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1932 Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the son of an Army officer, was admitted. He was “silenced” or shunned by his classmates for four years as officers and administrators at West Point looked the other way. No cadets, faculty or staff members befriended or spoke to him except on an official basis. Yet Davis persisted and graduated 35th in his class.
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. went on to command the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II and later was the first Black general in the U.S. Air Force. He died in 2002.
Now the U.S. Military Academy is paying tribute to General Davis by naming a new cadet barracks in his honor.
“General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. epitomizes the essence of character and honorable living we strive to inspire in every cadet at West Point,” said Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy.