Posted: February 24, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual
Samuel J Battle
 (January 16, 1883 –  August 7, 1966)

Today we will honor an African American pioneer in a field that wasn’t originally sought after by black people. Samuel J. Battle, the first African American patrolmen of the New York City Police Department. “Big Sam” ( nicknamed this due to his large stature) Battle was sworn in on March 6th 1911–making next month the 100th year anniversary of this historic event! (mark your calendars)

Historically, African Americans have always resented law enforcement. On any particular day you can hear a person of color voicing their unsavory opinions about these people that are hired to protect and serve us. Our primary hatred toward the police began during times of oppression–at a time when the majority of police personnel were white. Now it seems as if our hatred has taken on a new form. As of today, people of color make up for most of the crime statistics; we seem to constantly be doing something illegal, thus the police remain the enemy. It just can’t be a race thing, the police force is made up of many people of color. Now back when there wasn’t anyone of color involved in major law enforcement, Big Sam prevailed.

Not only was Big Sam the first African American New York City patrolman, he also managed to achieve many other distinguished firsts. Battle became the first African American police sergeant in 1926, as well as the first African American police lieutenant in 1935. Ultimately, Battle became the first African American parole commissioner in New York City–in 1941. While Battle was commissioner, he exercised his power toward a humanitarian approach when he initiated rehabilitation programs for Harlem youths in the form of summer camps and extensive sporting activities.

Despite our notions of the current state of law enforcement in the United States, having a black man hold so many prominent promotions in law enforcement is most definitely commendable. With a name like Battle, this authorative individual had no other choice but to fight the good fight in referecne to earning African Americans a equal place in society. Sam J. Battle’s legacy lives on through many of today’s New York Finest who are of color. Battle is a legend in the state of New York, and a legend of heroic proportion to African American culture; which is why black history should be celebrated year ’round(K*W)

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