In the 1950s, it was near impossible for African Americans to join a diving club not because they lacked the ability but because they were not allowed to join. If there was an opportunity for an African American to participate in scuba diving, the high costs set by the managers of the sports became a barrier. Saluting the godfather of Black scuba diving who crushed barriers denying African Americans from swimming
These barriers were crushed when Dr. Albert Jose Jones secured a diving certificate from the Howard University Pool. He founded the Underwater Adventure Seekers in 1959 to give equal access to everyone who is interested in scuba diving, according to National Geographic.
He explained that he was disturbed over the limited access available to African Americans interested in diving, so he was looking at innovative ways he would open up scuba diving for others to share in this passion.
Dr. Jones said the Underwater Adventure Seekers sought to give others the opportunity of seeing the world underwater. He said he found it untenable that people were denied this opportunity to follow their dreams because of the color of their skin and cost.
Many consider Dr. Jones The Godfather of Black scuba diving in the U.S. because of the bold step he took to open up the sport to everyone. He expanded the frontiers more when he co-founded the National Association of Black Scuba Divers in 1991.
Now many African American divers are able to pursue their passion much easier than a century ago. Dr. Jones said he developed his affinity for swimming when he was a boy. He gained the opportunity to materialize this dream when he joined the U.S. Army, according to Black America web.
He joined the scuba diving club in the army where he learned the basic skills of learning how to swim underwater. He said he got his inspiration to form his scuba club when he was selected during a boat show as one of the few Black divers.
Dr. Jones is helping Black scuba divers trace slave ships which drowned at sea and connecting African Americans to their history. Dubbed ‘Diving With A Purpose’, Dr. Jones and his team are documenting the hidden past of slaves of African descent which is buried underwater across the Atlantic Ocean.
The team was able to discover a Portuguese slave ship that drowned at sea near Cape Town, South Africa. The ship was transporting slaves from Mozambique, out of which 212 died out of the 500 slaves which were on board, according to the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture.
Dr. Jones noted that there is an important history of slavery which is often glossed over by marine archaeology and more needs to be done to connect African Americans to their history.
Since he formed his Black scuba diving club, Dr. Jones has trained and certified over 2000 divers free of charge. The godfather of scuba diving has also trained over 5000 people mostly children on how to swim.
He said his passion is to guide people looking for opportunities to realize their potential.