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Monday, July 8, 2024

William Harvey Goines, First Black Navy SEAL, Gone at 87, a Descendant of Two Civil War Union Soldiers and a Mentee of Poet Nikki Giovanni’s Father

William Harvey Goines

Nationwide — Last month, Master Chief William Harvey Goines, the first African American Navy SEAL sadly passed away. He was an original inaugural member of the Navy SEAL team when it was first formed under President John F. Kennedy.

Related to Hip Hop, within his family, Master Chief Goines was also the Goines family patriarch to two people that would go on to perform in two groups whose music would become foundational to Hip Hop, his nephew Gregory Seay, as percussionist drummer within the Isley Brothers band and niece Kim Seay, vocalist performing within Parliament Funkadelic. Also related to Hip Hop while growing up, Master Chief William Harvey Goines was mentored by poet laureate Nikki Giovanni’s father, Goines would often visit him as a leader in the local YMCA and glean life lessons from him. Read on to learn how he descended from two Civil War Union soldiers, was not allowed to swim in local pools due to segregation, and to learn more on the life and lineage of Master Chief Goines.

The New York Times shared that William Goines, who overcame racial obstacles in his Ohio hometown, as well as in the military, before becoming the first and only Black man to be chosen for the first Navy SEAL team when the SEALS were formed in the early 1960s, died on June 10 in Virginia Beach. He was 87.

The cause of death, in a hospital, was a heart attack, said Marie (Davis) Goines, his wife of 58 years.

Master Chief Goines, who grew up in Lockland, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb, retired from the Navy in 1987 as a Master Chief Petty Officer. In his 32 years in uniform, which included three tours of duty during the Vietnam War, he received a Bronze Star and a Navy Commendation Medal among other decorations.

Being Black, born to two that were Black parents navigating the world of Jim Crow, Goines had already faced segregation while growing up. His father, Luther Harvey Goines was a light complexioned and at times assumed to be white but did not hide his Blackness nor his Black family and he was often fired when employers he was married to a Black woman and indeed a proud Black man. Once an employer scolded him for letting “his maid” bring his lunch to him at work. It was William Harvey Goines mother, Lauretta (Turner) Goines bringing lunch to his father. His father immediately replied the employer, “That is no maid, that’s my wife – I’m a black man” & they fired Luther Harvey Goines on the spot. Authorities in Lockland enforced a strict segregation code at the public swimming pool and did not allow William Harvey Goines to swim in it due to him being Black. “When integration came to the area, the way I understand it, they filled the pool in with rocks and gravel so nobody could swim in it,” he said.

Overcoming that early racism, he taught himself to swim in a creek near his home along with his brother Charles anyway. Sometimes, he went to nearby Hartwell, where the town pool allowed Blacks from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. “They would blow a whistle and we’d have to get out,” William Harvey Goines told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “They would drain the pool to get it ready for the Whites.” With that same determination to be undeterred by hate or obstacles, Goines and his brother Charles went on to serve in the Navy with honor.

After 32 years of service, Goines retired in 1987 as Master Chief Petty Officer, the highest ranking an enlisted naval man can achieve. Additionally, his many commendations include the aforementioned Bronze Star, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and the Presidential Unit Citation. In 2023, the U.S. Navy Memorial presented him with the Lone Sailor Award, to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers during or after their service. The award recipients will join a list of men and women who have distinguished themselves by drawing upon their military experience to become successful in their subsequent careers and lives, while exemplifying the core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment..

Following his retirement, Goines remained devoted to his nation and community, first working as the police chief in the Portsmouth, Virginia, school system for more than a decade, and later volunteering to help recruit minorities into the SEALs, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Within his Goines family, William Harvey Goines, was belovedly known as “Billy” or “Uncle Billy”. On September 10th, 1936 he was the born first son of Lauretta (Turner) Goines, or “Mama Laura” as the family called her and her husband Luther Harvey Goines whom they called “Daddy Luther”.

On both his mother’s and father’s side he was a great grandson of Civil War Union soldiers, one of whom, Daniel Hamlin, had been the only Black in his newly formed unit. William Harvey Goines other two great grandfathers had been a ‘negro’ Civil War Union Soldier, John Dudley, the father of his paternal grandmother Mathilda Dudley who was born free in the South just after slavery, in that community of free Black people, she had met his paternal grandfather James Harvey Goins, a descendant of free Blacks that also used intelligent cunning to remain free despite labeled as Negro or Colored over decades living in pre-Civil War Northern Tennessee and Southern Kentucky during times of human enslavement based on race. The other great grandfather of William Harvey Goines, John Turner, father of his maternal grandfather had been enslaved human being during pre-Civil War Virginia, but left with emancipation during the time that troops were being pulled out of Southern States during 1876. John Turner went north from Virginia to Ohio is believed to have gone on to become the first Black dentist of Ohio’. John Turner’s home that he built by 1880 home was family home of William Harvey Goines as a child and was where he along with his two sisters and brothers (Beverly, Janet, Charles, and Gary) learned generosity, very deep love, laughing every day – as the Goines family says they still when they are together and it also where William Harvey Goines and his siblings learned very hard work, especially William being the oldest born. In a 2020 interview with our CMO, Cherise P. (his niece), Goines said that adjacent and across from the family home built by his emancipated great grandfather, dentist John Turner, the family had owned farmland and a lunch counter. “Not having a horse, I pushed the plow” said William Harvey Goines. During his childhood the family provided meals through their lunch counter, fireworks celebrations and more that otherwise would not have been available to the Black families in Lockland.

William left Ohio and ran back to Virginia to fight for the freedom of all Americans, the same state from which one of his great grandfathers had run from for freedom, and upon arrival he made the same brave choice to fight for freedom as his other great grandfathers had made as the only Black in his newly formed unit, the SEALs, he is celebrated for living fiercely as a highly trained, braved and decorated hero…and yet within his own bloodline he simply, only, and always loved even more fiercely than he lived. For more on the Goines family line of William Harvey Goines please contact Cherise P. a member of and a Family Historian for the Goines family, via a request on HipHopTruth.com’s Contact Us page here. All requests for this important special feature will be handled quickly by live personnel.