Inspirational Quotes
by African Americans in the U.S. Navy

Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., USN, the first black officer promoted to flag rank and to command a naval fleet.

“Most rewarding thing [in his career]? I guess after the turmoil and some of the other things that I’ve been through, the most rewarding thing was to find out one morning that it had not all been in vain. I was in command of the Jouett when I learned I’d been selected for admiral. Boy, oh boy, that was a shock. It brought tears to my eyes. That was the most rewarding thing I ever had to happen to me.”
[Source: Paul Stillwell’s career interview with VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. for the United States Institute, 2003, pages 412-413)

Photos of Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.
USS Gravely (DD 107)

Commander Wesley Brown, CEC, USN, (Ret.), first black USNA graduate in 1949.

“I do have some things I like to say to students: Go where there is no path and blaze a trail . . . The time to study for finals is everyday. . . ”

Commenting on the Naval Academy Field House named in his honor on 10 May 2008, CDR Brown observed “There’s not greater honor that anybody could possible give me . . . it’s symbolic of the Navy’s commitment to diversity.”
[Source: Trailblazer, Full transcript of the Shipmate interview with Wes Brown,]

U.S. Naval Academy - Wesley Brown Field House

Master Chief Carl M. Brashear, USN, the Navy’s first black master diver.

“I can honestly say that I reached my goal in the Navy. It was an exciting career, but then it wasn’t a bed of roses either. I had my ups and downs in the Navy, but I would do it over if I could. I enjoyed the excitement of being a deep-sea diver. I grew a lot in the Navy. As a matter of fact, I grew up in the Navy as far as my professional life goes. . . . And I just enjoyed the Navy. I really did. I don’t think I could have made it in civilian life with the limited education I had and my attitude. I think the Navy was the best place for me to grow up and find myself.” [Source: Paul Stillwell’s career interview with MC Carl M. Brashear for the United States Naval Institute, 1998, pages 160-161)

USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7)

Janie L. Mines, first black female USNA graduate in 1980, Senior Executive Service, Senior Advisor (Business Processes), Office of the Secretary of the Navy.

Commenting on how her Naval Academy training prepared her for her future career, “The Academy prepares us mentally, morally and physically not only as naval officers but as ethical, competent, leaders in all that we do. I have faced many intellectual and ethical challenges in my career. My USNA foundation gave me the tools to excel professionally and personally. Our families and homes plant the seed. Annapolis nurtures and cares for it producing truly talented and extraordinary young men and women.”,
[Source: under Celebrating Black History Month]

Rear Admiral Michelle J. Howard, USNA Class of 1982, on “What does Black History Month mean to you?”

“Black History Month is a chance to recognize historical figures. It’s a reminder that our republic came to maturity with the contributions of all her people. By taking the time to educate ourselves on our history and the people who shaped this nation we can more fully appreciate the ideals set down by the founders. We are blessed to live in a time where the promise of the 14th Amendment has come to fruition. It’s a reminder that our work is to sustain freedom and ensure that rights and liberty belong to all our citizens.”
[Source: under celebrating Black History Month 10 February 2009]


Vice Admiral Melvin G. Williams, Jr., USNA Class of 1978, Commander, Second Fleet.

“Having diverse thought, experience, background and skills amongst individuals who contribute to the Team efforts, combined with the creation of an environment whereby individuals may realize their full potential, leads to improved readiness and enhanced mission performance.”
[Source: under Celebrating Black History Month]


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