Carl Brashear: An amazing man, a triumphant African American

    Courtney Collins is a winner of the “Achieving Greatness Through Choices” Black History essay contest at the Charles M. Finley Recreation Center in East Mt. Airy/West Oak Lane. The contest concluded on the last Saturday in February, Black History Month. But since Black History is a critical part of American History, and so is important anytime, NewsWorks will run each winner’s piece here over the next one to two weeks. Below is Courtney’s complete essay.


    Carl Brashear accomplished a goal that every African American wishes to achieve. He became celebrated because he had a dream and developed a plan.

    Carl Brashear developed a plan to achieve his success. His plan did not have to be typed or documented on paper because it was documented in his mind. Each stroke that he took lead to success. Carl Brashear was the first African American deep sea diver.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    He worked hard to become great. He knew since he was a child that he loved swimming. There were some days that he would skip school to go swimming. This was not such a good idea, but he had a great love of swimming and would practice every day to achieve his goals.

    In seventh grade he quit school and got a job at a service station. In 1948, at the age of 17, he joined the United States Navy as a steward. At this point he found that he wanted more and discovered that he had to further his education. He was able to get more of an education and became the first African American deep sea diver in the Navy.

    Carl attempted to get into diving school. He received a great deal of negative comments because he was a “colored” man. His reply to the racist comments was that “the Navy is about to have one.” He was determined to achieve his dreams of becoming a deep sea diver. He was persistent and never gave up, even after losing a leg in an accident in the Navy. He continued to swim, dive, walk and work. Even at the age of 75 he continued to teach and pass his knowledge on to others.

    Carl Brashear reminds me of myself. I have many dreams that I want to accomplish in my lifetime. I want to make a difference in the world. So no matter what goes on around you, “the dream starts with you.”


    More information

    Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African-American to qualify and serve as a master diver in the Navy, was the subject of the 2000 film Men of Honor with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert De Niro.

    Listen to the All Thing’s Considered report on Carl Brashear’s death in 2006.

    Link to information about and pictures of Carl Brashear at Diving

    In 2008 the US Navy christened a new amunition and cargo ship the USNS Carl Brashear.


    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal