FROM PRISON CELL TO THE SEA: Greg White and Jeff Bolster

Boats have changed many a life, maybe yours, certainly mine. Charles Doane tells an inspiring tale of two lives changed by a dream of the sea.

You remember Jeff Bolster, right? He lives down the street from me here in Portsmouth, and I’ve crewed on his boat, and he’s crewed on my boat, and he doesn’t mind eating fish raw for breakfast. He teaches history at the University of New Hampshire and in a past life was a pro schooner jockey. I’ve heard from him the story of how his first scholarly tome, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Harvard University Press, 1997), proved to be a major inspiration to a black prison inmate, Greg White, who consequently went on to forge a career as a merchant mariner after serving out a 22-year sentence for armed robbery. As a result, Jeff and Greg formed a bond that continues to this day.

Now their relationship has been featured in a recent mini-movie produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities, [see above].

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