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Alan Dean: Rising Above Bias Exhibit at Nauticus Honors Groundbreaking Officer

Exhibit showcases life of the first African-American Officer to Serve on the Battleship Wisconsin

Norfolk, Va. – Nauticus will bring to life the story of Alan Paul Dean, Sr., in an inspiring new exhibit, Alan Dean: Rising Above Bias, opening July 22. Dean, who served as an Ensign on the Battleship Wisconsin from 1951 to 1953, was one of only six commissioned black officers on active duty at that time. He was the first African-American officer to serve on the ship.

“It has been an absolute honor to tell Alan Dean’s story of how he overcame adversity and racial bias in a time when discrimination was so strong around the nation,” said Scott Abrams, the Nauticus educator who curated the exhibit. “He was truly a man ahead of his time, who led the way forward with his exceptional attitude and strength of spirit.”

Rising Above Bias highlights and celebrates Alan Dean’s military accomplishments and service during his tenure onboard the Wisconsin. He chronicled his history-making service in an article that appeared in the February, 2007 issue of Naval History magazine.

“I am so moved by the level of passion and care Nauticus has taken with telling my father’s story,” said Michaela Huelbig, Dean’s daughter. “I believe my father, who was such a humble man, would have been quite embarrassed that such a fuss was being made about him. He was the first to remind people of their wonderful attributes and gifts to others. It is so nice to see his amazing attributes highlighted on the USS Wisconsin, a ship that he held so close to his heart.”

The exhibit, which is included in regular Nauticus admission, will be installed in the Wisconsin’s Wardroom in the area currently dedicated to the exhibit For All Those in Uniform Who Have Served. That exhibit pays tribute to the armed forces and recognizes the military career and service of Senator John W. Warner, who was instrumental in bringing the battleship to Norfolk.

The opening of this moving exhibit will coincide with the USS Wisconsin Association’s 17th reunion, which is taking place in Norfolk July 18-23. Dean was a member of the Association, whose members include veterans from WWII, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War. For more information, visit or call (757) 664-1000.

Release date:  July 13, 2016
Contact: Beth Bilderback (757) 664-1017