Jonathan Parham to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point 90 years after his great-grandfather stepped onto the campus.
It’s a family story of pride that spans decades.
Nearly 100 years ago Alonzo Parham stepped onto the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“This was at a time when it was a rarity. he was actually the seventh African American to attend West Point,” said Mark Parham, Alonzo Parham’s grandson.
Parham was also the first African American to attend the academy in the 20th Century.
“That was pretty special as a kid from Chicago, as a black kid from Chicago going there,” Jonathan Parham said, Alonzo Parham’s great-grandson.
Parham was eventually discharged for academic deficiencies.
“This was a time in America of an attempt to change with integrating the services, but it was far from something that was accepted culturally,” Mark Parham said.
“What ended up happening, due to circumstances surrounding his social interactions, which were slim to none, they ostracized him,” Jonathan Parham said.
Parham left West Point without graduating, but with something arguably more important – a legacy.
90 years later, Alonzo Parham’s great-grandson, Jonathan, is preparing to step onto the West Point campus.
“My son has a possibility of finishing what my grandfather started,” Mark Parham said.
A member of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corp since the 4th grade, Jonathan has dedicated his youth to chasing his dream.
“My interest in the military and actually joining it happened when Bin Laden was killed and I was like well that’s the best team I’ve ever seen. They crashed a helicopter and kept going. I wanted to be a part of a team like that,” Jonathan Parham said.
Jonathan needed a Congressional nomination to attend West Point.
“I did my interview with Congressman McCarthy and I got a nomination to the Merchant Marine Academy and the Naval Academy, not West Point,” Jonathan Parham said.
He didn’t let the bump in the road stop him.
“I drove up to San Francisco on a Friday to get my nomination packet into Senator Harris, and what happened there, the government shut down,” Jonathan Parham said.
A government shutdown still didn’t deter him.
West Point learned of his efforts and granted a military nomination to accept Jonathan into the academy.
One of the items he’ll take as he reports, his great-grandfather’s sweater from his time at West Point.
“From what I see, he left a great legacy and that’s what I’m trying to continue today,” Jonathan Parham said.
Jonathan Parham leaves June 29 to West Point.
Boot camp starts July 1.
He hopes to study law and plans to receive his masters at the academy.
After hearing about Jonathan’s nomination, Congressman McCarthy sent a letter congratulating Jonathan and wishing him well.