The Black Knight: An African-American Family's Journey from West Point-a Life of Duty, Honor and Country (Paperback)
July 26, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9981, issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. This executive order abolished discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin" in the United States Armed Forces, and led to the re-integration of the services during the Korean War (1950-1953).
Retired Colonel Clifford Worthy is the oldest living Black graduate of The United States Military Academy--West Point. Clifford Worthy is a great grandson of slaves, he was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Hamtramck, Michigan. Worthy was one of the few African American men of his generation who was accepted and excelled as a Black Knight of the Hudson, the traditional nickname for West Point cadets. Clifford Worthy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 2, 1953. He married Lillian Elizabeth Davis on the day after his graduation and went on to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1953 through 1975. He served as an artillery officer in American posts, in Germany during the Cold War and in Vietnam just after the Tet Offensive. He participated in Operation Gyroscope after World War II and served as Battalion Commander and Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of the Army.
In the late 1940s, the doors to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were closed to most young African American men. The few who had attended the prestigious military academy before that were subjected to relentless abuse and few survived. Why would Worthy even consider such an impossible dream? At a crossroads in his young life, Worthy took the chance of reaching out to U.S. Rep. John Dingell Sr., who had been a proud part of the New Deal in Washington D.C. and was ready to unlock closed doors.
"We need to keep opening doors for other families," former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Jr., wrote in the book's Foreword. "If my father had not taken that chance in the 1940s of sending a young African American student from Detroit to West Point--Cliff would not have had his remarkable career. ... As it was in the past, our country once again is deeply divided. I love this country. Cliff Worthy loves this country. I hope that this memoir will remind you of what it truly means to be an American."
In his memoir, "The Black Knight: An African-American Family's Journey from West Point--a Life of Duty, Honor and Country" Worthy describes his journey to West Point, the many challenges he overcame both in his family and in the U.S. Army, including service in the front lines of Vietnam.
Worthy's commitment to faith, family and service included his loving support of his son Mark, who was born with developmental disabilities at a time when the boy's disabilities were not widely understood. That part of this memoir inspires readers who share that long journey with loved ones who live with disabilities.
In praising this memoir, Cheryl Loveday, Executive Director of Angels' Place in Michigan, urges families facing these challenges to read this book. "As the father of three remarkable children, it was the life and specialness of his son Mark that led Cliff to dedicate his time and his wisdom to the Angels' Place mission--helping to provide homes and hope to hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities."
Rick Forzano, former Head Coach of the Detroit Lions, praises Worthy's memoir and his example to all of us. "He has fought his way through virtually every stage in life with his faith in God giving him the necessary strength and courage," Forzano writes.
James B. Hayes, former Publisher of FORTUNE magazine, writes of The Black Knight: "Stories of certain lives deserve to be told and preserved. They serve as inspiration for all of us and for generations that follow. Colonel Cliff Worthy's is one of those lives."