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    After 89 Years, Coast Guard Academy Using Racist Episode to Teach a Better Future

    After 89 Years, Coast Guard Academy Using Racist Episode to Teach a Better Future

    When Rear Admiral William G. Kelly learned of a dark episode from his cherished institution's past, the superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy was deeply astonished and profoundly bothered.

    That it happened in 1934 didn't dissuade Kelly from seeing if some healing could be done, and a positive result could finally be culled from such a miserable moment. But he wasn't sure the family of the man who'd been wronged would be so amenable.

    “I didn't know about the 1934 episode until we saw a story on Feb. 14, 2021 in the Hartford Courant,” said Kelly. It motivated him to reach out to Harrison “Brooks” Fitch Jr., an 80-year-old lifelong Springfield resident and the son of Harrison “Honey” Fitch, a victim of racial prejudice during the college basketball season nine decades ago.

    When decent people with the best of intentions communicate, though, good things can happen — even from the ashes of bad memories. For Kelly, Fitch and the Coast Guard Academy in  , Connecticut, that is what is happening now.

    Immediately after the newspaper story came out, Kelly wrote a letter to the editor, apologizing for the incident. In January 2022, the academy learned that the elder Fitch was being inducted into the Huskies Hall of Honor, the hall of fame for the University of Connecticut, where Fitch had been a star athlete in the 1930s.

    In February, Kelly sent a letter of congratulations to Fitch, Jr., who likes to…

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