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Dr. Olivia Hooker, First African-American Woman in Coast Guard on Active Duty

Written by Jae Jones

Dr. was just 30-years old when she joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1945. Hooker was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on February 12, 1915. Now, at 87 she holds a PhD in psychology, and worked until she was 87. She turned 100 in February, but 70 years ago she became the Coast Guard’s first African-American woman on active duty.  In March, 2015, the Coast Guard brass honored her by naming a dining hall on Staten Island in her honor. The commandant of the Coast Guard announced that a training center at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., would also bear the name of this 100-year-old pioneer.

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During Hooker’s earlier years she lived in a home that was ransacked by members of the Klan during the Tulsa race riot of 1921. She was a founder of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in hopes of demanding reparations for the riot’s survivors. She was among the survivors in 2003 who filed a lawsuit seeking reparations. Hooker’s family later moved to Columbus, Ohio after the riots. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937 from Ohio State University. She later received her Master’s ten years later in 1947 from the Teachers College of Columbia University

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She later applied to the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) of the U.S. Navy, but she was rejected due to being African-American. On March 9, 1945, Hooker went to basic training in Manhattan Beach, NY for six weeks. It was where Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS) had to attend class and pass exams. She was one of only five females to first enlist in the SPAR program. After basic training, Hooker specialized in the yeoman rate and remained at boot camp for an additional nine weeks before heading to Boston. After the SPARS program was banned she earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class and a Good Conduct Award.

She retired from any type of work at the age of 87. She joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary at the age of 95.  On May 20, 2015, President Barack Obama recognized the Coast Guard service and legacy of Dr. Olivia Hooker while in attendance at the 134th Commencement of the United States Coast Guard Academy.

source:

http://www.nysenate.gov/story/dr-olivia-j-hooker

http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/10/olivia-hooker-a-spars-story/

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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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