Sydney Barber Becomes 1st Black Female Brigade Commander At Naval Academy


Two news. Now of an important first in Annapolis, Sydney Barber will be the first African American woman to serve as brigade commander at the U. S Naval Academy. It is the top post for midshipman. She starts next semester. Sydney Barber Welcome and Congratulations. Thank you so much. Appreciate this opportunity is so great to be here. Yeah, We're very happy that you're with us. Tell me what does it brigade Commander do what's the job description? So I guess And if you were to look at it in a civilian sense, the brigade commander is what someone would describe is a student body president. So I am the sole representative of all 4400 midshipmen to the common on into the superintendent. So I'm the link between the Midshipmen body and our senior officer ship. So you told me. What kind of what A brigade commander does. What do you Sydney barber want to do like, How are you gonna make this special and make it yours? I feel like I have the heart to do it. My purpose in my objective is to build a team. People who appreciate each other appreciate every single thing that every person has and brings to the table who are really embracing our are blended organization and want to pursue a purpose, no matter what that looks like but are driven towards a shared short shared in common. Goal. So that's what I want to instill in my staff. That's what I want. And still in the brigade is a hole. I guess. First of all, if this whole military thing doesn't work out, please come work with me. I loved Tonto. That would be amazing if we could use you it at NPR. As I noted, you will be the first black woman in this role. And now the first woman to lead the brigade that came back in 1991. So not that long ago, um and back just then, in the early nineties, women were prohibited from flying warplanes couldn't serve on war ships at sea. In the Navy and the Marine Corps have changed so much Is there something what's left that the guys could do that you are prohibited from doing 00? My goodness. There probably are things out there that some limitations that still exist. There definitely are, but I am not worried about it. I'm not worried about all the any restrictions because I feel like we can keep. We can keep Breaking glass ceilings. This is just one of many something that I've heard recently and that I've really likes And I've said this a lot is that with every every step that I take, I mean, I leave the ladder down for the next person. Um and I've talked Tomo Miss Galina. She's been someone that's been a mentor to me the past week that all of this is kind of unfolded in the announcement. Has come about and I've gotten the chance to talk to people like her. Miss Jane is fine. She's the one who was the first woman back in. Yes, Yes, Mister Kalina? Yes, So she's been She's been reaching out to me Miss Janie Minds who the first African American female graduate of the Naval Academy. She's also been I've been speaking to her in depth. I got off the phone with Simone ask you who was the first African American first captain at West Point? Actually, 30 minutes ago, I was on the phone with Dr Rubin. Brigadier E S O. I just had a so money mentor who's also a brigade, commander of Black Brigade commander in the passing so many people who who have inspired me. Um, your story letters done to you. It sounds like right. And so when I think about this experience, I feel like it's special because it's not just about me. It's important that this story circulates for the purpose of The next generation all over the world. Who could look at this experience on Gluck at at this story is something that motivates them and inspires them Tonto amount of whatever goal that they have in their life. When did you know you wanted to join the Navy? Oh, I never wanted to join the Navy girl. So no, my so my dad. He was a graduate from the Naval Academy class of 91. He played basketball here. Andre something that they say is once you're in Academy grad or once a midshipman, always in mid shipment, and he lived by that everything everywhere. Any time was all about navy. This, namely that I was tired of it. By the time I was looking at colleges, I was trying to get away from that time. I wanted to write my own path. I'm looking at a lot of different schools. But what I really foster's in my heart is eyes just a drive for for wanting to pursue. Ah, Career of service. No matter what I did, I wanted to give back to the world. The reason we're doing this interview, the reason this is national news is that you are breaking a big old barrier there in Annapolis. I wonder how how big a deal is it on campus to your classmates care or you Sydney Barber, one of them and you know, like, Do you think about breaking the barriers as you walk around every day? Oh, I I try to keep a level head. I try to stay as grounded as possible. I try to keep a low profile, my friends, my teammates, especially on the track team with me. They kind of laughed because they know who I am. They know that I'm the last one to want my picture taken. Um, I usually I never post any stories on social media because I just don't usually like to Document everything that's going on in my life and just the shift of the past week they laugh because my face is everywhere. My picture is everywhere, People I also I don't usually like to To talk in front of a lot of people are talk about myself, but my mentors have actually helped me with that, and it's great to be humble, and that's something that I tried to be as best as possible. But at the same time, they're like Yeah, you need to be. You need to be confident you don't own this moment own the fact that you are the brigade commander. It took me forever to just say that to say those words because I don't. I don't like to fly. I don't. I don't want everyone to anyone to think that I'm any higher than them. So I'm going to try toe talk to the person that's taking out my trash or sweeping the floor outside my room and make them feel special. But the same time I need also step out of that. Like I need to own this moment to lead the brigade with confidence and with boldness. I do look forward to the day when we're not celebrating these firsts when when we're done because it is just not news that a woman that a black woman could do anything that her male classmates or white classmates could do. Um But it is also kind of. Ah, it's great, and it's a big deal, and I'm sitting here thinking If your grandmother so great grandmothers could see you. They must be so proud. Yeah. Yes, I think about something that I shared and in a founder's Day video about how I think about I'm so humbled by the fact that I get to walk here and be at the Naval Academy and be someone's wildest dream. And when I think about that, in my contents of my own history, my own family, my own ancestry, I think about My great grandparents were sharecroppers on a plantation in Mississippi. My grandmother now lives in Chicago. She was born on that plantation. Um They would never even pictured. This moment. This America looks nothing like the America that they experience and they died before they saw anything different, So I'm I always take that. Take that to heart. And I think about it pretty much daily as I go about my day here at the academy. Well, well, Those are words to live by own the moment. Congratulations again that Zbynek real pleasure and an honor to speak

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