In the film Men of Honor, Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) came from a humble black family, who lived in a rural area in Sonora, Kentucky. As a boy, in the early 50s, he already loved to dive, and as a young man he enlisted in the Navy hoping to become a diver. Initially Carl works as a cook, which was one of the tasks allowed for a black man at the time.
When he decides to dive into the sea on a Friday he ends up being arrested, as blacks can only swim on Tuesday, but his speed when swimming is seen by everyone and thus becomes a "surfer swimmer", on the initiative of Captain Pullman (Powers Boothe). When Brashear asks for the diving school he meets Captain Leslie Sunday (Robert De Niro), a rough and tyrannical diving instructor who has absolute power over his decisions.