Hugh Mulzac (March 26, 1886-January 30, 1971) was an African-Caribbean member of the United States Merchant Marine. He earned his Master’s rating in 1918, which qualified him to command a ship. However, due to Jim Crow, racist discrimination by the shipping companies, the U.S. government, and unions, he did not captain a ship until September 1942 when he became the first African-Caribbean man in U.S. history to do so.
A vocal civil rights and union leader, active with various Communist-led organizations, such as the National Negro Congress, the Council on African Affairs, and the Civil Rights Congress, Mulzac was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare, declared a “security risk,” and never captained again. His autobiography A Star to Steer By is a condemnation of U.S. racial capitalism and anti-communism and a call to action.