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Dr. Calvin Huey, the first African-American football player at the Naval Academy, dies at 75

Dr. Calvin Huey paved the way for many young African-American men to have an opportunity that leads to long term success and prosperity.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Dr. Calvin Huey will be laid to rest in Annapolis, Maryland at the First Baptist Church in Annapolis. Additionally, the United States Naval Academy will be holding a memorial service for him on Friday, Sept. 14.

Background

Calvin Huey was raised in Pascagula, Mississippi and temporary attended Tuskegee University before moving to California and going to Oakland City College. While at the Northern California junior college, Huey proved to be an exceptional football player.

Through much adversity, Huey eventually earned a nomination to the Naval Academy to be part of the Class of 1967. Prior to getting to Annapolis, Huey had no confirmation he was going to be part of the school’s football team.

Upon trying out for the football team in his Plebe (or freshman) year, Huey officially became the Naval Academy’s first African American football player. Calvin Huey played wide receiver and earned two varsity letters in his four years on the team.

Huey commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and was stationed on the USS Perry in Mayport, Florida. He completed two deployments to Vietnam, before earning his PhD in Chemistry. Huey returned to the Naval Academy to teach academics and coach the Sprint Football team.

After the military, Dr. Calvin Huey worked for IBM until 1997, when health concerns required him to stop working full-time.

Impact of Dr. Calvin Huey

Today’s military has a significant disparity between the percentage of African-American officers and enlisted personnel. As of 2015, African-Americans represented 19 percent of enlisted members, but only 9 percent of the commissioned officer corps.

The military constantly strives to ensure its officer demographics reflect that of the enlisted. For a young man, having role models to look to and embody is essential for future success.

Dr. Huey paved a path that hundreds of Naval Academy African-American football players have followed. He laid out guidelines on his approach to his time as a Midshipman, “It was important for me to be as respectful as possible...and try to be an exemplary midshipman and person.” The same remains true for all Navy football players, today.

The struggles Calvin Huey endured in society were much greater than those he would have faced in today’s society. Furthermore, the trials and tribulations faced as an African American at the Naval Academy in the 1960s are much different than what are experienced by African-Americans who attend the school now.

When Huey entered the school, there had been 15 years of Naval Academy graduating classes with African American. Today, there have been 69 graduating classes that include African Americans. However, what African American Midshipmen experience today is still different than that of non-minority Midshipmen. Dr. Huey set the example for many future African-American athletes at the Naval Academy and is an inspiration for all.