By Mylika Scatliffe
When we consider African-American achievement in the military, we think of General Benjamin O. Davis, the Tuskegee Airmen, and General Colin Powell.
For decades there have been efforts to uncover and highlight the amazing feats of Buffalo Soldiers, Black World War II veterans, and heroes of Vietnam.
Like the millions of Black men who have historically struggled to be treated equally and recognized as Americans in the Armed Forces, Black women are a piece of American military history fighting to be included in the narrative.
Black women’s achievements in the military are historic and underrated. Their history goes as far back as Susie King Taylor, the first recognized African-American Army nurse who served with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War.
The history of Black women in the military became more prominent during World War II.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and our subsequent entry into World War II, American men and women of all races, moved by earnest patriotism, rushed to enlist in all branches of the United States military.
The Women’s Army Corp was established as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) in 1942.
According to the National Archives, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, who would become one of the first Black women Officers, worked with Eleanor Roosevelt, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, and Mary McLeod Bethune to draft the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp resolution that was presented to Congress.
The bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and with the signing of the legislation on July 1, 1943, by President Franklin Roosevelt. The name was changed to the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) and made part of the United States Army. Black women were admitted with a 10 percent quota in conjunction with Army policy.
“On Monday morning, 13 July 1942, I reported to Fort Hayes and was sworn into the WAAC. There were eight of us on that morning, and I happened to be the only Negro in the group,” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams, in her biography, “One Woman’s Army.”