By Evette D. Champion
When we think of American heroes who have done a lot for our nation, we tend to think that only men were capable of doing things that would change history.
Women have made some pretty impressive accomplishments in the military too.
Ah, but it wasn’t white women who made these accomplishments, but #African American women who stepped up and showed their courage, strength, and intelligence. What may be surprising to some is that African American women were showing their skills as far back as 1948, decades before the Civil Rights Movement.
The Women’s Memorial created a list of these trailblazing women who have helped today’s military leaders become where they are.
First Lieutenant Nancy C. Leftenant was the first African American woman to become a member of the Regular Army Nurse Corps. She joined the Reserve Corps in 1945 and officially became a member of the Regular Army Nurse Corps in 1948.
Edwina Martin, Fannie Jean Cotton, and Evelyn M. Brown were the first three African American women who were commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force in 1951. The women graduated from the Air Force Officer Candidate School.
In 1964, Margaret Bailey from the Army Nurse Corps was the first nurse that was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Captain Clara Adams-Ender was the first woman in the US Army to qualify and receive the Expert Field Medical Badge in 1967. Nine years later, she was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Adams-Ender became the first woman in the US Army to have earned the Master of Military Art and Science Degree.
Captain Diane Lindsay, also from the Army Nurse Corps, was the first African American nurse who received the Soldier’s Medal for her acts of heroism in 1970.
Mildred Kelly was the first African American woman to become sergeant major for the US Army in 1972.
A few years later in 1974, Senior Sergeant Joyce Malone was the first African American woman to earn airborne wings for the US Army Reserves.
Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown was the first African American woman general officer, as well as the first African American Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.
In 1987, Irene Trowell-Harris was the first African American women to become the general officer for the National Guard.
1995, Brigadier General Marcelite Harris from the US Air Force was promoted to major general. She was the first African American woman to achieve this esteemed rank.