On May 27, 1942, 44 African American men were sworn in as members of the U.S. Navy’s B-1 Band. They served at the Navy’s preflight school on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They were the first African Americans other than cooks or porters to serve in modern era of the U.S. Navy. They were also the first African Americans to work at the university in occupations that did not involve cooking, cleaning, or laundry work.
The band members were not permitted to live on campus. Each morning they marched to campus in order to perform during the raising of the flag ceremony. A historical marker has now been placed along the route to campus the band took each morning .
Only four of the 44 members or the band are still alive.