Dr. Calvin Huey, The First African-American Football Player at the Naval Academy, Passes Away

Dr. Calvin Huey, who was the first African-American football player at the Naval Academy, died on Saturday, 1 September the age of 75. Huey was a 1967 graduate of the Naval Academy and earned two varsity letters on the football team as a wide receiver. He served two tours in Vietnam. He is survived by his wife Deborah and son, Callen.

Calvin Windell Huey grew up in Pascagoula, Miss. He was 19 years old when U.S. Marshals were ordered to his home state to enforce a federal court order allowing African-American student James Meredith to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Influenced by uncles who schooled him in math, and a mother who enrolled him in summer programs at Historically Black Colleges, Huey was a gifted student. He was especially interested in science, specifically chemistry.

"My hope after high school was to go the University of Chicago, Ohio State or Wisconsin," Huey told then Navy and current New England Patriots broadcaster Bob Socci for a story Socci was writing back in 2011. "Unfortunately, I didn't know you needed money to go to those schools."

Huey attended Tuskegee University briefly, but left to join a friend at Oakland City College in California. Leaving the segregated South to go West, Huey was eventually lured East.

At Oakland, he was honorable mention junior college All-America as a quarterback. Recognizing Huey's aptitude and athleticism, a friend suggested he pursue a service academy appointment.

Huey contacted Mississippi representatives and was immediately denied. One congressman, he remembers, reasoned that he didn't want Huey "to be a stain on Mississippi."

Undeterred, he instead got a California representative to nominate him; not as a football recruit, but solely on his own accord. In fact, Huey told Socci he had no contact with Navy's coaching staff before trying out for the team as a plebe.

A year after Huey reached Annapolis, Emerson Carr followed, becoming the first black Minnesotan to attend a service academy.

Hailing from the North Country, Carr makes light of his mostly pale surroundings in the Twin Cities. "I went to what was considered a predominantly black school in Minneapolis, (but only) 20 percent of the students were black kids," Carr told Socci, before showing off his sense of humor. "You could also say the non-Scandinavians were the minorities. I thought the whole world was made up of Andersons and Johnsons."

Regardless, Minnesota was very progressive. Unlike the city of Annapolis, where public schools remained segregated until 1966, more than a decade after Brown v. Board of Education. Carr found certain restaurants and movie theaters off limits. On the other hand, Huey was accustomed to such racial demarcations. Sitting below the Mason-Dixon Line, Annapolis was, he remembers, "very much like Mississippi."

Huey makes the comparison absent the slightest tinge of bitterness or resentment. Same goes for Carr. Though outside the Academy, the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. Inside, Huey and Carr were simply trying to succeed as midshipmen.

"The March on Washington took place during my plebe summer," Huey recalls. "I didn't know it occurred until a year after." That's because he concerned himself only with what he needed to know to satisfy the demands of upperclassmen. If skin color subjected either to extra harassment, neither was aware of it. Huey actually thinks he had it easier than most by trying out and making the basketball team, as well as the football squad. Sports enabled him to dine with teammates, instead of answering to older shipmates.

"I think I pretty much had a free ride by being an athlete," he told Socci. "I wasn't dumped on as much as other midshipmen because I was playing sports. I had no trouble until the end of the year, because I ate at the training table for football and basketball. I joke that I had a two-week plebe year."

Article courtesy of the Naval Academy Athletic Association.

Navy Football Team, 1965 (courtesy of NAAA)

Dr. Huey's funeral will take place on Tuesday, 11 September at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Annapolis (31 West Washington Street). There will be a memorial service at the Naval Academy Columbarium on Friday, 14 September at 3 p.m. with a reception at Ogle Hall immediately following the service.