Today in Black History 07/28/2015 | Joseph Charles Jenkins - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 07/28/2015 | Joseph Charles Jenkins

 

July 28, 1959 Joseph Charles Jenkins, the first officially recognized African American commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard, died. Jenkins was born in 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and his Master of Business Administration degree from Wayne State University. In the late 1930s, Jenkins helped organize what would become the 1279th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Michigan National Guard in the late 1930s. Jenkins enlisted in the coast guard in 1942 as a boatswain’s mate first class and was quickly promoted to chief. After completing officer training, he was commissioned an ensign April 14, 1943. Jenkins completed active duty with the coast guard in 1945 and returned to the Michigan National Guard in the African American Engineering Unit where he rose to the rank of captain. He resigned from the guard in 1947 and went to work with the Michigan State Highway Department where he was the assistant director of the Metropolitan Detroit area at the time of his death.

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