Carl Maxie Brashear
There are many people who come to mind when I think of African American role models, instead of going with the obvious, I decided to find a more current example of direction, discipline, and determination. (That fact that this man is from Kentucky and is not a boxer didn’t hurt either.) All leaders and role models have the natural sense of where they want to go and what it will take to get there. They are driven by an irresistible urge to achieve their goals and arrive at their destination at whatever the personal cost. This characteristic is catching among those of us who want to achieve their fullest potential and is inspiration for those of us who have not yet started the journey. Carl Brashear embodies these traits to the fullest measure. Carl Brashear was born on January 19th in 1931 in Tonieville, Kentucky, to McDonald and Gonzella Brashear. Carl was one of eight children who were part of an impoverished sharecropper’s family and he learned the value of a good, hard, day’s work helping his family work on the farm. From these unassuming beginnings, Carl Brashear became a very outstanding figure in not only African American history, but in U.S. Naval history as well. In February, 1948 at the age of 17, Carl enlisted the Navy and attended boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois five months before Henry Truman's desegregation order. However, African Americans in the Navy during that time were often relegated galley duties, often preparing and serving the ships meals. He developed his interest in diving while serving at the seaplane base in Key West, Florida, dispelling the myth that blacks could not swim, or were poor swimmers at best. He managed to persuade his commanding officer to place him in the diving pool. His fellow dive mates would often leave threatening letters on his bunk full of racial slurs and even going so far as to threaten his life. Unfortunately, this behavior would follow him throughout every stage of his career. In...
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