RIP, Lanier Philips
March 13, 2012 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Civil rights activist, (and adopted Newfie) dies at 88 As reported previously, Philips was the sole black survivor in a shipwreck of US navy vessels of the coast of Newfoundland. The kindness shown to him by those who nursed him in the tiny town, where no one had seen a black man before, inspired Phillips' life of activism for civil rights. A good reminder of the power of small kindnesses ...
posted by chapps (14 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
. RIP, a good man, and here's to the good people of Newfoundland.
posted by arcticseal at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I encourage folks to go to the "previously" link and listen to the NPR piece.... Good stuff. Thanks for bringing this to us. And peace to all involved.
posted by HuronBob at 6:35 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thank you for posting this....I heard the tribute on the CBC yesterday and thought of posting a Metatalk update to the original thread. I was so touched by his story the first time I heard it and I am glad his legacy will live on at Memorial University. I liked the suggestion by a CBC commenter of naming a scholarship after him. I think that's the first time I have actually had a smile on my face after reading the comments on the CBC website.

RIP for Mr. Philips, and a raised glass to him and to his adopted compatriots on The Rock.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:49 PM on March 13, 2012

Another good radio link: Soundprint: An African-American's ordeal.

RIP to the first black Navy Sailor to become something other than a messman. An amazing man.
posted by virago at 7:53 PM on March 13, 2012

(And I realized after that post that I did not define the term "messman":

"Messmen cleaned, served, shined the shoes of the officers, and generally performed tasks that were considered too menial for white Sailors," writes Jeff Edwards in an excellent interview with Lanier Phillips* about his experience in the Navy and the hurdles that he faced in becoming the service's first African-American sonar technician – and in demonstrating his hard-earned technical abilities:
Following Sonar School, he reported to a destroyer, USS Bailey (DD-713). When he arrived on the quarterdeck, the Officer of the Deck tried to send him down to the Steward's berthing, with the rest of the black Sailors. Lanier shook his head, presented his written orders, and said proudly, "No Sir! I'm not a Steward's Mate. I'm your new Sonar Technician."
* Text link; not singe page.
posted by virago at 8:10 PM on March 13, 2012

Aaargh! "Not single page."
posted by virago at 8:11 PM on March 13, 2012

Love the pic at the top of the CBC story.

Geez those quotes in the story sound just like my Granddad, also a decorated WWII vet. Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.

posted by dry white toast at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2012

I encourage folks to go to the "previously" link and listen to the NPR piece

Thanks, HuronBob, I did and I'm glad I did.

Good bless us all.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:16 PM on March 13, 2012

The story is a little confusing. One the one hand, there seems to be no question about the kindness Newfoundlanders extended to this man. On the other, being the first black man they saw - and the legendary washing to remove the oil belived to be the cause of his darkened skin - seems to suggest that they assumed he was white. Would the same kindness been extended had they realized at once he was of African descent?

RIP Mr. Philips. Well done. The best way to repay a kindness received is to pass it on to someone else.
posted by three blind mice at 1:38 AM on March 14, 2012

Would the same kindness been extended had they realized at once he was of African descent?

If you're asking that question, you've never been to Newfoundland or met a Newfoundlander.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:32 AM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Funny that a post about overcoming discrimination contains a term many on the rock -- at least in my limited experience -- consider a slur.
posted by docgonzo at 8:05 AM on March 14, 2012

I was just thinking of this story last week while editing a story about my travels through Atlantic Canada. Sad to think he missed one last birthday celebration, at least his story will live on in history.

posted by kuppajava at 8:28 AM on March 14, 2012

My apologies, I assume you mean my use of the term "newfie". Obviously a bad oversight on my part. I hadn't thought it was considered anything but colloquial, but I should know better.
posted by chapps at 8:17 PM on March 14, 2012

I asked a friend from Newfoundland at lunch today if he (or Newfoundlanders) found "Newfie" a slur. The answer was a resounding no, he pointed out that most joke books about Newfies are written by natives who have a good line in self deprecation.

That said, always be sensitive to your audience, it doesn't serve to paint any group with a broad brush, YMMV etc..
posted by arcticseal at 10:49 PM on March 14, 2012

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