“The race question is extending itself upon the seas."
At the beginning of the 19th Century, one out of five American sailors were black; at the start of the 20th Century, black sailors in Brooklyn were facing severe job discrimination.
The Brooklyn Eagle reported in 1903 that:
There seems a growing disinclination to ship with negros. All but the negro members of the Cooks Union are at sea. Those who seem left behind in the shipping offices are mainly colored, and there is a always a large colored contingent in the meeting room of the Episcopal Mission Society at 1 State Street. The rooms of the Legal Aid Society, as well as the offices of other seaman’s attorneys seem to hold negro majorities, that means that the negro sailor is having more than his share of trouble on board.