Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Eliza Wills become the first African American Navy officers

December 26

On December 26, 1944, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Eliza Wills were officially commissioned, becoming the first African American Navy officers. 

In October of 1944, President Roosevelt and the Navy announced the decision to allow African Americans into the Navy. Shortly thereafter WAVES selected two black recruits Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Eliza Wills to enlist in the Navy. Despite the integration of the Navy in 1944, African American men and women still faced discrimination, racism and lack of representation.


Sources

AMERICA250: Navy veteran Harriet Pickens. VA News. (2022, February 24). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://news.va.gov/98241/america250-navy-veteran-harriet-pickens/

Malloryk. (2021, February 23). “we made it, friend” the first African American female officers in the US Navy: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans. The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/african-american-wave-officers-us-navy

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