"'Just One Navy – The U.S. Navy' Race Relations in the U.S. Navy."
Commander's Digest. Vol. 13, no. 4. Washington, D.C.: GPO, November 30, 1972. P. 12-14.
SuDoc No.: D2.15/2
This article discusses some of the Race Relations Education Programs designed to
institutionalize equal opportunity in the U.S. Navy "which is, for all practical purposes,
94 percent white."
'Just One Navy – The U.S. Navy': Race Relations In The U.S. Navy
The Navy's Race Relations Education Program has as its objective the elimination of racism from
the United States Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., stated his
policy, and the Navy's policy, very clearly two years ago when he said:
"Ours must be a Navy family that recognizes no artificial barriers of race, color or
religion. There is no black Navy, no white Navy – just one Navy: the United States
In November 1970, the Chief of Naval Operations convened a series of retention study groups.
One was a group of black officers and their wives who met in Washington for a week, discussed
problems, and then gave a briefing to the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations,
and other senior personnel. The insights gained from that group had several results. One was
the appointment of a Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Minority Affairs.
The other was the establishment, in June 1971, of the Human Resource Project Office with a Race
Relations Education Program.
This program was launched by what is known as a Z-Gram – a personal message from Admiral
Zumwalt – to the entire Navy. In this Z-Gram (Z-66) Admiral Zumwalt discussed the
retention study groups, and outlined steps the Navy intended to pursue in the area of equal
The Navy's Race Relations and Equal Opportunity Programs are, in effect, dual but complementary
programs. The Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Special Projects is the
Chairman of the Advisory Panel for Equal Opportunity. This panel consists of representatives
from Personnel, Recruiting, Information (CHINFO), and Plans and Policy. Under the panel is a
working group made up of the representatives from these areas, the co-directors of the Race
Relations Program, the Equal Opportunity Officer for the Chief of Naval Personnel, the Minority
Recruiting Officer, the Special Assistant to the Chief of Information for Minority Affairs, and
a representative from the Plans and Policy Division. At the same time, the panel utilizes the
normal chain of command. This dual organization provides the CNO with the ability to be
directly involved in maintaining the chain of command for routine administration of the
The Race Relations Education Program under the Human Resources Project Office is much like the
well-known Polaris Submarine Program. In other words, this is the first time that the Navy has
utilized a project approach to software or to people.
The Human Resources Project Office is responsible for the design, testing, implementation,
monitoring, and institutionalization of the Race Relations Education Program. This office is
also unique in another fashion. It has a five-year charter – now in the second year
– which has a self-destruct mechanism built into it.
The theory is that, in this five-year period, the Project Office will have developed programs
and institutionalized them so that the Navy can carry on and there will be no need for this
office. Under the Project Office are four field activities known as Human Resource Development
Centers. These are located at Newport, Rhode Island; Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California;
and a fourth one, to be operational in January 1973, at Pearl Harbor. These centers focus on
the Race Relations and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse programs.
In the field of Race Relations, the Human Resource Development Centers are primarily responsible
for providing direct training to commands located in their geographic areas, and the training
of trainers – often referred to as "a multiplier effect" – to provide
additional trainers in Race Relations. The centers are also responsible for the coordination
of Race Relations Education Programs in their areas. Under them, there are Race Relations
Education Specialists who are assigned to a particular command in teams to provide Race
Relations trainings. They are graduates of the Defense Race Relations Institute. Their job
is strictly Race Relations Education.
The Navy's approach has primarily been three-pronged. It has programs for the operational units,
programs for the bureaus and programs at the formal school level. In the formal school area,
the Navy has concentrated primarily, in its first year of operation, on "accession-level
training." Race Relations Education for all recruits has been instituted at the recruit
commands, the Naval Academy, and the Officer Candidate School, and will soon be provided in
the Naval ROTC system. Additionally, Race Relations Education is being provided at advanced
schools, such as technical schools for people who have completed basic training and who may
have been put out in the fleet; the new Chief Petty Officer Management School, which will be
going in this year; and the Naval War College.
In each instance, the assigned staff of that school is used to run the Race Relations Education
Program. The staff is trained by the staff of the Washington Project Office and the curriculum
is developed in conjunction with that Office.
The Navy's philosophical approach is that Race Relations Education must actively involve the
participants – that it cannot be a passive transfer of information, or a didactic
approach. The Navy feels that by using experiential learning, by doing, it gets more
involvement, understanding, awareness, and insight necessary to address problems. It feels
that any education program in race relations must take into consideration the concept of power.
The Navy is an organization which is, for all practical purposes, 94 percent white. The power
to make changes in that organization resides in the majority community, not in the minority.
Equal opportunity is viewed as an integral part of the command mission and it requires direct
In its 18 months of existence, the Race Relations Education staff has developed two programs
for use in the operational forces. The first is UPWARD, which is an acronym for Understanding
Personal Worth And Racial Dignity. It's designed primarily for middle management people, E-5
through E-7, and O-2 through O-4. The staff very quickly discovered that no matter how good
the UPWARD program was, whether or not it was going to make a difference would depend on the
kind of training provided those in upper management. As a result, the Navy developed the
The Executive Seminar is primarily for upper management officers O-5 and above. It is designed,
first of all, to explain Department of Defense and Navy policy, and to provide for recognition,
identification, and acceptance of the problem. It calls for changed insights and perceptions
which can lead commanders to an examination of their own command profile. After going through
the command profile, the Seminar moves into an action phase where action steps are developed
to meet the problems that have emerged from the profile. One of the steps involves a
"racism inventory." It allows the commander and his staff to get a good look at
what his command really is, and where his minorities are. Are they in supervisory positions?
What are the procedures for providing both vertical and lateral mobility?
In August 1972, the prime target population was the Flag Officer community. The Chief of
Naval Personnel now sponsors a Flag Officers Seminar for all flag officers going to command.
This grew out of the initial "school" for newly selected flag officers and has been
expanded to include a day and a half of Race Relations Education, during which a modified
executive seminar session is given. Basically, the approach is the same as that of the
executive seminar. The emphasis is on the responsibility and accountability of command in
the area of equal opportunity.
Like the other Services, the Navy also has problems. One is institutional inertia. There is
the tremendous amount of resistance to change typical of any institution. Secondly, since
more than a "transfer of information" approach to education is involved, the
instructors – called "facilitators" – must have the skills beyond those
of just being able to instruct. This requires a longer lead time in training.
There is also a problem in acquiring the necessary number of people needed to conduct the program.
There are many things, using local resources, that can be accomplished at the local level
– which leads into the next problem: Since Race Relations Education is so new and the
program has limited resources in terms of people, it is unable to respond adequately, at
this time, to the demands for its services. In the interim, there are many enterprising
commanding officers who have developed and instituted their own local programs.
The Human Resources Project Office plans to assist local programs, where possible, until it
can come in with a more formal approach. Plans for next year involve the completion of race
relations education curricula in the Navy's formal school system, to continue the
institutionalization of the programs that have been developed so that commands such as
Naval Training can take over education programs which are already operative.
These are all objectives for the next calendar year.