Submit Your Article Idea

In February 2009, members of the Navy’s Centennial Seven posed with U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen at the BEYA STEM Conference in Baltimore. From left to right, Capt. Pete Tzomes, Rear Adm. Tony Watson, Cmdr. Will Bundy, Vice Adm. Mel Williams, Capt. Joe Peterson, Rear Adm. Cecil Haney, and Rear Adm. Bruce Grooms.

Click Here!

The Centennial Seven were the only African Americans to command a submarine during the 20th century. Pictured to the right of Grooms, Cmdr. Rich Bryant, who commanded USS Miami (SSN-755), and Cmdr. Roger Isom, commanded USS Wyoming (SSBN-742). Bryant and Isom were the first two African Americans to command a submarine during the 21st century.

Now, STEM City USA has collaborated with US Black Engineer magazine to share a pre-release video highlighting The Centennial Seven. The video is exclusive and provides insight into their achievements.

Produced by Bryan Davis and executive produced by Tyrone Taborn, the video tells the inspiring stories of these pioneers who challenged the status quo with unwavering courage, resilience, and leadership.

Tyrone Taborn, an honorary US submarine pilot, guides viewers through this remarkable narrative, emphasizing that this is a story that should touch every American.

The seven African American men made history as the first and only ones to command U.S. Navy submarines during the first 100 years of the Submarine Force (1900-2000).

The photo taken during the BEYA STEM Conference has the men standing in the order they assumed command. Capt. Pete Tzomes (commanded USS Houston in 1983), Rear Adm. Tony Watson (commanded USS Jacksonville in 1987), Capt. Will Bundy (commanded USS Barbel in 1988), Vice Adm. Mel Williams (commanded USS Nebraska in 1994), Capt. Joe Peterson (commanded USS Dolphin in 1994), Adm. Cecil Haney (commanded USS Honolulu in 1996), and Vice Adm. Bruce Grooms (commanded USS Asheville in 1997).

During the BEYA Stars and Stripes event held in February 2020, US Black Engineer magazine conducted several interviews with Centennial 7 members.

Those interviewed included Watson, Williams, Haney, and Grooms. Unfortunately, Joe Peterson was unavailable for an interview, while Pete Tzomes and Will Bundy have since passed away. Rich Bryant and Mel Smith are not part of the Centennial Seven, but they were mentored by them and are part of the next generation. They briefly explained the ship they command and the year they took command.

To learn more about the Centennial Seven and the contributions of Black submariners and military leaders, please visit the BEYA YouTube Channel and watch videos of the Stars and Stripes events.

You can also check out books reviewed by US Black Engineer magazine, such as “Navigating the Seven Seas” by Melvin G. Williams Sr. and Melvin G. Williams Jr. or “Black Submariners” by Glenn A Knoblock. Additionally, organizations like the BEYA Stars and Stripes and STEM City USA’s Tribute Hall.

The Centennial Seven is a testament to diversity and representation in the military sector. Their journey as submarine captains highlights the significant contributions of Black Americans to the nation’s defense.

The video aims to educate and inspire, shedding light on a crucial piece of American history that is not widely known. The hope is to ignite a spark in the youth, showing them that their ambitions are achievable, regardless of the obstacles they may face.

STEM City USA and US Black Engineer magazine are committed to encouraging diversity and inclusion in all areas of STEM. By sharing these inspiring stories, they hope to inspire future generations of diverse leaders in STEM fields.

STEM City USA is dedicated to creating opportunities, inspiring interest, and promoting quality education in STEM subjects for all children across the country. US Black Engineer Magazine provides resources, recognition, and support for the Black Engineering community nationwide.

Throughout history, African Americans have made significant contributions to serving the country. They have served in state and continental navies, as well as in the Department of Navy.

Since the Navy’s establishment in 1798, they have distinguished themselves on ships, aircraft, and submarines during times of peace and conflict. Today’s African American sailors take pride in the achievements of their predecessors, including the sailors who earned the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, Dick Henry Turpin, a survivor of the explosion aboard the battleship Maine, and the Black female yeomen who enlisted during World War One.

During World War Two, the Navy planted the seed for racial integration and trained a generation of outstanding African American officers and enlisted personnel who provided critical leadership and expertise.

In the Cold War era, African American trailblazers met the challenge and began commanding ships, submarines, and shore establishments during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974, the Navy issued its first naval equal-opportunity manual, followed by its first Navy affirmative action plan two years later.

Today, previous African American officers and enlisted personnel continue to stand out among the Navy’s best and brightest, gaining recognition as trailblazers. Among this amazing group of Centennial Seven, we honor their contributions and achievements.

While working on acquiring footage for the Centennial 7 documentary, the team reached out to the members of Centennial Seven for any material they may have. During this process, the team happened to have a call with Admiral Tony Watson, who offered to send some content over email. He recommended an interview from the early 90s, where he was interviewed during the Black Engineer of the Year Awards. Any footage or photos of the Admirals, Captains, and their vessels was helpful.

Click Here!

leave a Reply

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial