Check out the Yahoo News Release below Today's EXIT of the DAY!
Exit of the Day: Every Day at the Front Line
EXIT 4a onramp southbound. I-95/I-495; To Forest Heights, Maryland
The first African American secret service agent, Charles LeRoy Gittens hails from upcoming Fort Washington. His father was a contractor who had immigrated to the United States from Barbados.
Gittens left high school before graduation in order to enlist in the Army. His 4 brothers had served in the military. Much later Gittens' daughter recalled: Little Charlie, as he was known, was determined to join the service. Said she: “He was anxious to be a man because they called him Little Charlie. He wanted to be with the big guys."
The Big Guy was promoted to lieutenant in the Army and was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. There Gittens earned his GED.
Following the end of the war, Gittens earned a degree from North Carolina Central University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English and Spanish. As a result, he was bilingual. After a year stint as a teacher, Gittens was recruited into the United States Secret Service in 1956.
He served in several high positions including guarding New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller during his 1969 trip to Latin America. He also was in the Guard detail for Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. While he was not present at Kennedy's assassination he was just feet from Kennedy the night Marylin Monroe sang Happy Birthday to the President.
Though Gittens told friends he never felt discrimination from other agents, he still faced it on the job. While guarding President Lyndon Johnson on a trip to Dallas, he and other agents entered a restaurant. The waiters initially refused to serve him. According to a story in Ebony Magazine, said Glittens, “The other guys were a lot angrier than I was. But the manager came out and apologized profusely. And we eventually got served.”
In an interesting twist of one persecuted minority serving another persecuted class, Gittens later spent years leading investigations of Nazi war criminals who were residing in the United States. So it is an opportune moment to relay our warm Passover Wishes:
A Book was written about his career entitled OUT FROM THE SHADOW by Maurice A. Butler.
Charles LeRoy Gittens died in 2011.
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