Monday, July 09, 2007



Lt. London Steverson v USCG, DOT, Commandant(USCG), Commandant (G-P), Commandant (G-PMR), Captain Raymond J. Copin, Commander Albert J. Allison.

Complaint of Racial Discrimination. 29 January 1976.
Jurisdiction: Commandant Instruction 5350.11
Investigating Officer John O. Platter, Jr.
Report of Investigation, File Number 76-58.
Dates of Investigation 19-27 May 1976.

Description of the Complaint and Chronology:
July 1964 Kenny Boyd and London Steverson reported to USCGA as the first and only JF Kennedy cadets.
June 1968 Ensign London Steverson graduated from USCGA; assigned to USCGS Glacier (WAGB-4), Long Beach, California as Deck Watch Officer and Marine Science Department Head.
July 1970 Lieutenant (jg) Steverson transferred to CCGD 17(Ops) Juneau, Alaska.
July 1972 Lieutenant Steverson transferred to CG Headquarters, COMDT (G-P), 7th & D Street, SW Washington, DC.
September 25, 1972 Lt. Steverson assigned to head G-PMR-3, Minority Recruiting Department.
May 1973 Lt. Steverson applied to The National Law Center, George Washington University Law School. He was accepted to the night school program.
January 1975 Captain William P. Butler organized a Minority Recruiting Ad Hoc Committee (Committee) to draft a Minority Recruiting Plan. The intent was to formalize the successful techniques that had allowed the Coast Guard to add about fifty new Black cadets in only two years. It was designed to make minority recruiting more of a science than an art. Constructive criticism and alternative ideas were encouraged. Captain Butler was Chairman of the Committee, and Commander Copin was Vice Chairman. Lt Steverson was a member and resident expert on minority recruiting techniques and minority views. The first phase of the Committee's life was intended to allow Lt. Steverson to provide a primer on Minority Recruiting Techniques that had proven most successful.
May 1975 Commander Copin replaced Captain Butler as Chairman. Commander Allison joined the Committee.
May 1975 Commander Copin threatened Lt Steverson with an adverse fitness report unless he received his complete backing and full cooperation on the Committee.
July 1975 Commander Allison told Lt Steverson that he had too much power for a Lieutenant. Lt Steverson interpreted Cmdr Allison to mean “too much power for a Black lieutenant”.
January 1976 Captain Copin released a draft of The Minority Recruiting Plan (The Plan).
January 1976 Lt Steverson submitted in writing a minority view on The Plan.
January 20, 1976 Commander Allison advised Lt Steverson that he was going to lower his performance marks and that he would be getting an adverse fitness report.
January 1976 After receiving a less than satisfactory Fitness Report, Lt Steverson attempted to informally reconcile the situation with Captains Copin and Allison.
January 29, 1976 Lt Steverson filed a Formal Complaint of Racial Discrimination with the Department of Transportation, Director of Civil Rights.
April 1977 Lt. Steverson graduated from George Washington University Law School with a Juris Doctorate Degree in Law.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Final Decision after investigating the Complaint.

Description of the Organization:

Description of the Investigation:

Issue in the Complaint:

Details of the Investigation:

List of Witnesses interviewed:

1. Complaint of Discrimination.

2. DOT Acceptance Letter.

3. Affidavit of Complainant.

4. Affidavit of Captain Raymond J. Copin, Alleged Discriminating Official, (ADO).

5. Affidavit of Commander Albert J Allison, Alleged Discriminating Official, (ADO).

6. Affidavit of Lt(jg) Walter Sapp (Witness).

7. Affidavit of Lt. William L. Giles (Witness).

8. Affidavit of CWO3 Robert T. Douville (Witness).

9. Affidavit of Lt. Cdr. Maxie M. Berry, Jr. (Witness).

Lieutenant Commander Maxie M. Berry, Jr.

STATE OF Washington…………………..)
COUNTY OF District of Columbia………)

I, Lt. Cmdr. Maxie M. Berry, Jr., residing in Baltimore, Md. 21212, am employed as Assistant Chief, Military Equal Opportunity Division, Office of Civil Rights, U. S. Coast Guard, DOT, Washington, D. C. ,…………………………………….

Hereby solemnly swear:

I know the Complainant, Lt. London Steverson, USCG, both personally and professionally. Personally, I have seen him at social events sponsored by the Department of Transportation and the U. S. Coast Guard. Professionally, I have worked with him on some projects that involved both minority recruiting and civil rights issues. We were both members of the Minority Recruiting Ad Hoc Committee. He has been to my office many times. He is acquainted with Mr. Walter Summerville, in my office, and Mr. William “Bill” Hudson, my boss, the Chief of the Coast Guard Office of Civil Rights.

Since I have been in the Office of Civil Rights, there have been 16 Direct Commission Black and Hispanic officers hired to recruit minorities. All failed in their mission. I had the occasion to counsel all of them. They all attributed their failure to limited support. To my knowledge all Coast Guard attempts to recruit minorities, particularly for the Academy and for Officers’ Candidate School, failed before Lt. Steverson was given the job. He appears to have had some success.

I feel that Lt. Steverson was asked to perform above and beyond what is normally required of a Coast Guard Officer. I am referring specifically to this Minority Recruiting Ad Hoc Committee that was formed by Captain William Butler. The fact that this Committee dealt with minority recruiting added an additional responsibility to Lt. Steverson and the rest of the Black officers to succeed. Had it not been for that situation, I believe Lt. Steverson would not be faced with the present situation

Because the minority issue is a sensitive issue, I feel that this was a contributing factor. Therefore, I feel that had I been in the same situation as Lt. Steverson (assigned as Chief of the Minority Recruiting Branch), I would have done my job the way I knew would have gotten results and I too would have received an adverse fitness report.

Previous attempts by the Coast Guard Office of Personnel to increase Minority recruiting in the U. S. Coast Guard had not been successful. As a result, the Commandant sent out letters to various persons, I included, asking us to serve on an Ad Hoc Committee on Minority Recruiting. We were asked to make individual contributions which we felt would enhance the Minority Recruiting. We were also encouraged to submit individual minority opinions if the final committee report excluded certain of our suggestions.

Captain Bill Butler was Chief of the Recruiting Division; so, he served as the first Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee. My understanding from Captain Butler from the initial discussions was that all the members were to be considered equal, and that we should freely and openly express our views. In fact, views from the field on how to increase Minority recruiting were solicited and they were submitted to the Committee.

During the initial stage under Captain Butler’s chairmanship, I and the other members of the Committee, including Lt. Steverson, injected various recommendations that were thoroughly discussed.

When Captain Ray Copin assumed the Chairmanship of the Committee, the ground rules as far as accepting all members as equals deteriorated. A more militaristic, and more rank conscious, environment or atmosphere surfaced. I felt that Captain Copin’s approach was to talk at us instead of listening to us.

The Committee was guided in the direction Captain Copin determined. Previously, the Committee’s direction was determined by majority rule. The recommendations that were contrary to Personnel Policy or USCG procedures were not readily accepted. Captain Copin would talk them to death; he would filibuster them to death. For Example, we discussed the one-man, one-vote approach to decision making. We discussed this for several meetings without resolving it. Whenever the Committee came close to a resolution, which appeared to be unacceptable to Captain Copin; that is, when the Captain did not agree with it, he would filibuster the idea to death.

On a number of occasions during the meetings, the views of Lt Steverson would differ markedly with those of Captain Copin. I, and the rest of the members, also had very different views from Captain Copin on many issues. Lt. Steverson often told me afterwards that whenever his views during the meetings had differed with Captain Copin’s views, that Captain Copin would call him into his office for a closed-door dressing-down session. During these counseling sessions, Lt Steverson indicated that he was told that he was not supporting the Captain or his views, policies or programs. Also, Lt. Steverson told me that Captain Copin told him that his failure to give backing and support to Captain Copin, himself, would result in an adverse fitness report. He was threatened with an adverse fitness report if he did not endorse Captain Copin’s ideas as good one for recruiting more minority applicants.

I felt that the reason Lt. Steverson and I were placed on the Committee was precisely because of our minority backgrounds, our ethnic group, and our varied experiences. We felt that we had been asked by the Commandant to serve on the Ad Hoc Committee with a mandate to provide recommendations to him which would improve minority recruiting programs. We thought that we had been asked to make recommendations that were innovative and, based on our opinions, if adopted would improve the Coast Guard’s posture in the minority community.

Lt. Steverson openly and freely communicated his views, opinions, and recommendations to the Committee. He would freely discuss his reasoning on any opinion that he held. Whenever Captain Copin was unsuccessful in my views or Lt. Steverson’s views, he would filibuster that issue to death.

Lt. Steverson told me that he was going to get an unfavorable fitness report because of the biasness of Captain Copin and Commander Al Allison, the assistant to Captain Copin.

Captain Copin wanted his views to prevail. So, he tried to devide the Committee. I felt that he wanted to “devide and conquer”. Lt. Steverson told me that the way things were going the only way he would be able to be completely honest about the issues was to write a separate minority report.

Even though, Lt. Steverson wrote most of the Ad Hoc Committee Report, he still wrote a minority report to the principal report. When the Committee met to vote on the final report, Captain Copin did not tell us how he wanted any minority opinions forwarded up the chain of command. There was no indication or direction that the Committee members were restricted in discussing any items that we felt needed to be included in the minority report.

I have read the above statement, and it is true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.

(Signed) Maxie M. Berry, Jr.

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Washington, D.C. on this 26 day of May 1976 before John O. Platter, Jr., EOS.

10. Affidavit of Lt. Cdr. George F. Martin (Witness).

11. Affidavit of Lt. Captain William P. Butler (Witness).

12. Affidavit of Lt. Cdr. Thomas A. Welch (Witness).

13. Affidavit of LaVerne O. Doggett, Office Secretary (Witness).

I, LaVerne Doggett, do hereby solemnly swear, inter alia:
I live at 2300 Good Hope Road, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20020. I am employed as a Secretary-Stenographer, GS-7, at COMDT,G-PMR, USCG HQ.
I have been in this position since 03/1974. I am the only secretary for the Chief, G-PMR. CAPT William Butler was the Chief in 03/1974; now, CAPT Ray Copin is the Chief. Copin was the Assistant Chief until Butler retired.
I was never present during any of the staff meetings between Butler and Copin and the four Branch Chiefs.
All of the Branch Chiefs made their request for a meeting with the Division Chief during meetings or on transmittal slips, except for Steverson. He always communicated by formal memorandum. Steverson told me that he and Copin had a communications problem. I believe this communications problem began when Copin was Butler's assistant.
From 06/1975 to 11/1975 when Copin became Chief G-PMR, the Assistant Division Chief position was vacant. It was filled by CDR Alfred J. Allison.
I do not recall Steverson ever going to see Allison without being summoned. I recall Allison going to see Steverson in his office a few times. I never heard what was being discussed when Steverson met with Copin or Allison.
I do not think that the problem that existed between Steverson and Copin was of a racial nature. I think it was of a managerial nature. All memorandum leaving the Office came through me. Steverson always submitted his written work in final form. The other three Branch Chiefs submitted their paper work in draft form. Copin usually made changes to all memorandum from the Branch Chiefs, except Steverson's. I do not believe that Steverson knew that Copin made changes to the memorandum of the other Branch Chiefs.
Steverson's fitness report of 01/31/1976 was prepared by Allison, and hand-carried to Copin, without me seeing it. Normally I would see Allison's proposed report before Copin approved it. When I received Steverson's report for typing it had been finally approved by Copin as the official report.

SUBSCRIBED and SWORN to before me at Washington, DC on this 24th day of May 1976.
John O. Platter, Jr. EOS.

14. Affidavit of CWO Niel D.Ruenzel (Witness).

15. Affidavit of Cdr. James L. Webb (Witness).

Minority Recruiting Officers Conference 1973 St. Louis, Missouri

NNOA Convention Cleveland, Ohio

Lt. Steverson acts as interpreter for Military Attache from Zaire, General Fallu Sambu, who Presents Gift to CO of RTC Yorktown, VA.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

The African Americans employed by the Life-Saving Service were experienced fishermen and oystermen who had lived along the Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina Coasts. They were well-trained to handle boats and were knowledgeable of surf and sea. Upon clearance from the medical surgeon, these men were issued Articles of Engagements and became paid U.S. Life-Savers.
Pea Island Lifeboat Station logged numerous rescues in its annals. One of the early crewmembers of the Pea Island Station, Maxie Berry, Sr., served 25 years and retired as a chief Boatswain’s Mate. His father, Joseph H. Berry, Surfman, retired in 1917 after 15 years of service at Pea Island. Maxie Berry’s son, Maxie M. Berry, Jr., retired as a Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander on September 1, 1976, while stationed in the Office of Civil Rights at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Another son of the late Maxie Sr., Zion H. Berry, also served in the Coast Guard, to continue a remarkable tradition of over 350 years of continuous service.

11:58 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

On 23 May 2008 the military’s top officer told members of the Naval Academy’s Class of 2008 that they should not be afraid to question authority and that they should be prepared to leave the service if they feel they cannot carry out orders.
“Few things are more vital to an organization than someone who has the moral courage to question the direction in which the organization is headed and then the strength of character to support whatever decision is made,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told 1,037 graduates Friday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. “That is real loyalty.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 60s-80s when we talked about "managing diversity", we really meant race and gender. Sadly, we still find ourselves well short of optimizing either or both of those elements. Both the enlightened intellectual and the practical project leaders of today see huge value in making certain his or her team is composed of members who bring not only gender and racial diversity but also a wide spectrum of skills and capabilities to the table. We want variations in expertise and age and MATURITY and ideas and CULRURE and any other factors of consequence that could help get the project done well. For too long we have celebrated what we had in common. That's OK, but the fault lies in pretending that we have everything in common. WE SURELY DO NOT and the better leader knows that and acts on that knowledge.

9:07 PM  

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