Black WWII veteran remembers war, segregation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Black WWII veteran remembers war, segregation

James Taylor, then and now James Taylor, then and now
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

In 1943, Biloxi resident James Taylor was an 18-year-old black man in the Navy. January 30th of that year, was a day he will never forget. That's when 22 sailors died after their ship was hit by a torpedo.

"I thought I would not make it," Taylor said. "But then I prayed, and I made it through."

Taylor was one of six black men who served with 250 fellow sailors aboard a destroyer with the fifth fleet in the South Pacific.

"That was awful," he remembered. "That was the most segregation I have ever experienced in my life."

The six black men were crammed into one small room on the ship. Taylor would load the front guns on the ship, but most of the time he and the other black men on board were only allowed to serve as stewards.

As a stewart on the ship, Taylor would shine the officers' shoes and do their laundry. There was no mingling of races, and at times, the black sailors feared for their lives. Taylor worried he would be thrown overboard if he was caught walking the deck alone.

But times have changed. Taylor was one of nearly 80 WWII vets recently invited to visit the war memorial in Washington. In his 88 years, it was one of Taylor's happiest moments.

"Seeing that monument was a tear jerker," he said with his voice choked with emotion. "It just made you want to cry and then it made you proud to be an American."

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • BREAKING

    "Horrific scene": Son stabs mother to death and assaults father, officials say

    "Horrific scene": Son stabs mother to death and assaults father, officials say

    Monday, July 16 2018 1:48 PM EDT2018-07-16 17:48:43 GMT
    Major Pete Luke with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department called the scene "horrific".  Source: WLBTMajor Pete Luke with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department called the scene "horrific".  Source: WLBT

    Major Pete Luke with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department called the scene "horrific". 

    More >>

    Major Pete Luke with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department called the scene "horrific". 

    More >>
  • Seabee training exercise means you may hear gunfire Tuesday morning

    Seabee training exercise means you may hear gunfire Tuesday morning

    Monday, July 16 2018 12:50 PM EDT2018-07-16 16:50:16 GMT
    If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, it's just an exercise involving simulated ammunition. (Photo source: WLOX)If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, it's just an exercise involving simulated ammunition. (Photo source: WLOX)
    If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, it's just an exercise involving simulated ammunition. (Photo source: WLOX)If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, it's just an exercise involving simulated ammunition. (Photo source: WLOX)

    If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, don't worry. It's just part of a scheduled exercise involving simulated ammunition. 

    More >>

    If you hear gunfire near the Gulfport Seabee Base Tuesday morning, don't worry. It's just part of a scheduled exercise involving simulated ammunition. 

    More >>
  • School improvements take shape in Pass Christian

    School improvements take shape in Pass Christian

    Monday, July 16 2018 12:33 PM EDT2018-07-16 16:33:27 GMT
    Brand new turf courtyards are laid out and ready for students at Pass Christian's elementary and middle schools. (Photo source: WLOX)Brand new turf courtyards are laid out and ready for students at Pass Christian's elementary and middle schools. (Photo source: WLOX)
    Brand new turf courtyards are laid out and ready for students at Pass Christian's elementary and middle schools. (Photo source: WLOX)Brand new turf courtyards are laid out and ready for students at Pass Christian's elementary and middle schools. (Photo source: WLOX)

    About two years ago, 80 percent of Pass Christian voters approved a $10 million school improvement bond issue. Now, the different campuses are full of the benefits that brought to the district. 

    More >>

    About two years ago, 80 percent of Pass Christian voters approved a $10 million school improvement bond issue. Now, the different campuses are full of the benefits that brought to the district. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly