First Black Naval Academy student honored with new monument in South Carolina

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(Charleston, SC) — A new monument recognizing the first Black student to attend the U.S. Naval Academy was dedicated Monday in Charleston.

James Henry Conyers, a Charleston native, was nominated for admission in 1872 by U.S. Rep. Robert B. Elliott of South Carolina.

He was sworn in as a cadet-midshipman on Sept. 24, 1872, but left in September 1873 “due to unthinkable acts of physical and mental abuse, physical attacks, and permanent isolation from classmates.”

Conyers returned to Charleston, where he lived until his death in 1935.

It was not until 14 years after his death that the first Black cadet graduated from the Naval Academy.

The Naval Academy Superintendent VADM Sean Buck and Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation CEO Jeff Webb attended the event.

Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, NASA administrator and South Carolina native, delivered the keynote address.

The monument is located at the Humane and Friendly Society Cemetery on Pershing Street.

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