Radical Changes Towards Equity

Sydney Barber will be the first black woman to serve as a brigade commander in the Naval Academy's 175-year history.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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Senior Sydney Barber will earn her strives, rising to the highest rank at the US Naval Academy. Brigade commander, leader of all 4500 midshipmen, becomes the first black woman to hold that role.

Barber told CBS This Morning, "I'm extremely humbled to play a role in this moment of history."

For the 21-year-old Illinois native, is still a little overwhelming. "For a black female to be taking command of an institution that once never had a single female at all here, not at all a black person, it speaks values of how far we've come."

Barber's legacy began with her father, Lieutenant Kenneth Barber, a 1991 Naval Academy graduate. Her father told the source, "To mark your name in 175 years of history of the US Naval Academy is quite humbling, and I am proud that she is going to be part of that long history."

Barber becomes only the 16th woman to serve on the top job since the Academy went coed in 1976. The same year, her mentor Janie Mines became the first black woman admitted.

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Regarding Janie, Barber said, "Me being here, at the Naval Academy, is her wildest dream, to being able to lead in this capacity, and I hope that one day I can be someone else's wildest dream."

US Navy's Captain Tasya Lacy couldn't let this opportunity escape for Barber. "We only go for things that we think are within our grass. I never thought I could be the Captain commander so consequently didn't apply for that job and so when I see Sydney going there for the same round, I tell her that she has to go for the stars."

Barber has been going, non-stop, since high school traveling abroad at mission trips for her church and experiences she says, led her to the Academy: "I am blessed in so many ways that I have to give back, I have no other choice but pursue service to others."

She also holds an Academy record in track and field. However, the times that she downs herself, Sydney returns to her brother Justin. She revealed, "If there is anyone in my life who has to inspire me most is him."

Her brother was born with a rare condition that has left him blind and deaf. Justin was given less than two years to live. However, Barber recently celebrated his 19 birthday. In Barber's own words, he reminds her that every day is a blessing and anything can't be taken for granted.

Her strong values are a gift she shares with her classmates and generations of leaders to come.

"What I want to do is be someone else's light, to be someone that people can look up and say I can do something greater than myself and make a change in our world," she confesses to the source.

Sydney Barber became the first African American female brigade commander, the Naval Academy's highest leadership position. The midshipman 1st Class authority of Lake Forest makes history and opens the way for other females of all races to come.

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