Lanier Phillips, survivor
It sounds like a bad Newfie joke: the Newfoundlanders who had never seen a black person before and tried to scrub the colour off his skin. But the story is real: in 1942, Lanier Phillips was the only black survivor of the wreck of the USS Truxton off the coast of Newfoundland.
Like the white survivors, he was half-dead and covered in oil when he
arrived on shore, and the women nursing the survivors were puzzled when
they could not clean the black colour off his skin. What happened next
affected Phillips’ self-perception and prompted him to push for equal
treatment in the US Navy. He went on to become the first African American US SONAR technician, and continues today, at the age of 84, to speak across the US about his experience with the people of St. Lawrence.