Sydney Barber: 1st Black Woman To Serve As U.S. Naval Academy Brigade Commander

Black women are coming through! Sydney Barber has been named the first Black woman to assume the highest role among students at the U.S. Naval Academy. Next semester, she will lead fellow students under the title of Brigade Commander.

The academy made the announcement on Monday that Midshipman 1st Class Barber will reign as commander for the 2021 spring semester, CBS news reports. The position is the top role within the student body and last throughout the semester.

After submitting an application and going through the interview process by senior leaders and commandant’s staff, Barber, a mechanical engineering major, was selected.

“Earning the title of brigade commander speaks volumes, but the title itself is not nearly as significant as the opportunity it brings to lead a team in doing something I believe will be truly special,” Barber said in a statement. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”

Although 15 women have earned the brigade commander position, Barber will be the first Black woman. 2020 marks 44 years that women have been accepted into the Naval Academy. It was in 1991 that Juliane Gallina was the first woman to hold the title.

Janie Mines was the first Black woman to finish at the academy in 1980, she praised Barber’s accomplishments on her social media page: “This brought me to tears. This young woman, Midshipman Sydney Barber, will be the first Black Female Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy. 40 years later. Thank you, Sydney! Love you!”

Earlier this year, Lieutenant Madeline Swegle became the Navy’s first Black female tactical fighter pilot.

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