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"BUPERS Minority Affairs Branch." All Hands. no. 651. Washington, D.C. GPO, April 1971. P. 15.

SuDoc No.: D208.3

Outlines the accomplishments of the Navy's Bureau of Naval Personnel, Minority Affairs Branch.


Before there was a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Minority Affairs, or the current priority effort in the Recruiting Division for black and other minority officer recruitment, there was the Minority Affairs Branch within the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

For two years Commander Ben Frank has directed the efforts of personnel policy toward minority groups. His was the office that first began examining BuPers policy toward minority groups, and prompted the first policy level decision to make the Navy a leader in the moral efforts to make equal opportunity a reality in the sea service.

One of the most revealing projects conceived and carried out by CDR Frank and his staff was the formation of the BuPers Race Relations Team. Originally composed of just two or more people, the Team is patterned after similar teams used by the Department of Defense for more than five years. Judge L. Howard Bennett, director of equal opportunity for the Armed Forces, developed the informal techniques used by the DOD teams, and which were adapted to the Navy.

In July 1970 the Chief of Naval Personnel, VADM Dick Guinn, greatly expanded the concept, adding specialists from various facets of manpower management, which traveled to the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill. The trip was made at the request of RADM Draper Kauffman, Commandant of the Ninth Naval District, to look into the racial situation at Great Lakes, and to make recommendations for improving race relations.

As an example of the result of the team visit the Commander of the Great Lakes complex outlined several actions he is now taking, all of them originally included in the recommendations made by the team:

  • Revitalize the committee for equal opportunity and treatment.

  • Make it clear that the commander of the base is concerned and interested in good race relations.

  • Direct Navy exchanges, libraries, and clubs to develop a sensitivity to black needs and desires.

  • Begin a program of race relations education, and

  • Pay more attention to people as people wherever they may be, in school, off duty, in correctional custody, in the dining hall, the pay line, or on the job.
These actions, positive actions, typify the teams's recommendations to commanding officers, wherever the team travels. But the difficulty, according to CDR Frank, comes in carrying out these recommendations, and that job goes right back to the CO. "That's why the concept of 'command support' is so crucial to the betterment of race relations.

"The changes we've seen in race relations in the past two years have heralded, at least for me, an optimism that the Navy can very well correct its history of racial inequity. I've seen good things happen. I've been disappointed over others, but generally I can see much improvement," he concluded.

Source: "BUPERS Minority Affairs Branch." All Hands. no. 651. Washington, D.C. GPO, April 1971. P. 15. Team members, chosen from those men qualified and nominated within the Bureau of Personnel, represent the Navy on conferences in minority affairs. Their presence at a Naval Training Center or other shore unit, as was the case at Great Lakes, is only upon request of the local commanding officer.

Members of the team bring their Navy experiences, as well as a special sensitivity to racial problems, to the team.

One member pointed out that "there's a general lack of understanding of the cultures of the various minority groups in the Navy. That's the big problem – to get people to realize that there are cultural differences, that this isn't only a white man's Navy."

Naval personnel connected with the team are not known to mince words, "After a while you learn to ignore a lot of subtle things. But there are all kinds of small irritations that make Navy life more difficult for Navymen from minority groups. Many training manuals, for instance, are written as if only whites were in the Navy – how can a black man turn pale from shock? Haircuts used to be another problem, because very few Navy barbers knew anything about hair care for blacks. Z-Gram 66 helped bring that problem into focus."

The Z-Gram highlighted more than the haircut irritant. It is the most comprehensive step-by-step outline of Navy racial policy yet. This most far-reaching directive established special assistants for minority affairs for each commanding officer.

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