SWD Black History Month Spotlight: Tony R. Roberson

Tony R. Roberson is the Chief of the Military Integration Division, Programs Directorate, for the Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tony R. Roberson is the Chief of the Military Integration Division, Programs Directorate, for the Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Tony R. Roberson has been the Chief of the Military Integration Division, Programs Directorate, for the Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since April 2015. In this position, he is responsible for the execution of the Military, Environmental, and Interagency and International Services programs in the Division. The Division provides engineering, construction and environmental management services for nine Army and nine Air Force installations.

Roberson has worked for the SWD for 16 years and prior to working for the Corps, he held various positions working with the U.S. Navy, EPA and the private sector. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Savannah State University and a Master of Science in Environmental Management from Meridian University in Petaluma, Calif. Roberson, a registered Environmental Program Manager whose hobbies include organic gardening and bike riding, took a break from his day to share some thoughts on his inspirations, career and Black History.

Q. Who or what inspired you to choose your career field?
A. I attended Savannah High School and I was inspired to pursue a career in science by my science teacher Ms. Boller and also watching science fiction TV shows like Star Trek and Mr. Wizard.

Q. What advice would you share with teenagers about choosing a STEM related or government service career?
A. I would advise anyone to make sure whatever it is you choose, it’s something you have a passion for. As a government employee you can really make a difference in the lives of the people you serve.

Q. What has been your most memorable USACE project or program?
A. My most memorable project was being a part of the 2003 multi-agency task force for the Columbia Space Shuttle Recovery in East Texas. I worked as the Planning Chief at the Hemphill, Texas Command Post providing and scheduling resources, technical support and equipment for Environmental Personnel. The search and recovery involved thousands of people from federal, state and local agencies who conducted searches over large areas of East Texas. We worked every day throughout the 90-day duration of the operations.

Q. Black History Month, also known as National African American History Month, theme this year is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.” Is there a site or event in Black History that holds a special memory or meaning to you?
A. Yes. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the destructive aftermath. I was nine years old at the time, but I can recall the first time he visited my city of birth, Savannah, Ga., in 1964. There was a lot optimism and hope within the Black community and the city was looking forward to his return in 1968. Dr. King was scheduled to visit Savannah again, two weeks before his assassination, but bad weather prevented him from visiting. He once called Savannah one of the most “desegregated (cities) in the South”. Although some viewed his assassination in 1968 as a betrayal and assault on the dreams of the Black community, there was very little rioting and vandalism due to the rallying and leadership of the church and political leaders of all races. Black and white political and community leaders kept Savannah relatively calm, which was an example of what Dr. King stood for.

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