Sydney Barber Becomes the First Black Woman to Ever Serve as Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy

Illustration for article titled Sydney Barber Becomes the First Black Woman to Ever Serve as Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy
Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Burke (AP)

Black women keep making history and I, for one, love to see it. Next spring, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will become the first Black woman to serve as brigade commander at the U.S. Naval Academy.


According to CBS News, brigade commander is the highest rank within student leadership and is a semester long position. The role is granted through an application and interview process with senior leadership and the commandant’s staff. Barber will be only the 16th woman to serve in the position in the 44 years since women were allowed to serve.

“Sydney stands out amongst her peers, for not only her exemplary record, but for her clear vision of how she intends to make the world a better place and her accompanying bias for action,” Lt. Cmdr. Darby Yeager said in a statement.

Barber is currently majoring in mechanical engineering and has plans to commission as a Marine Corps ground officer.

“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.”

Janie Mines, who was the first Black woman to ever graduate from the Naval academy in 1980, expressed her excitement at the news on social media.

“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!”


According to USA Today, Barber has previously expressed her admiration for Mines, saying in a video last month that women like her inspired her to “follow her footsteps and be her wildest dream.”

Barber is not the only Black woman to make history in the U.S. Navy this year, as Lt. Madeline Swegle, a 2020 The Root 100 honoree, became the first Black woman to serve as a tactical fighter pilot in July.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.



I’m getting tired of seeing these kind of stories.  I find it sad that they should even be a thing, because in a just world, this should just be considered normal and not an outlier when POC gain positions like this.  Let’s hope there comes a day when we don’t have to print a story that a POC is first to do anything and it’s just a person accomplished this.  I am happy for these people, I just wish it wasn’t such a huge deal this late in our history...should have happened ages ago.