Tag: African-Americans in military

Brigadier General Donna Martin Becomes 1st Black Female Commandant of U.S. Army Military Police School

Brigadier General Donna Martin (photo via KSPR News)

by Lexi Spivak via kspr.com

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (KSPR) – Brigadier General Donna Martin recently became the first African American female ever to serve as commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School. In a ceremony on Friday, July 14, Martin’s title was made official as Brigadier General Kevin Vereen relinquished commandancy.

Brig. Gen. Martin described herself as a quiet, small town girl from Virginia. She stayed in Virginia to attend college at Old Dominion University until she was sent on her first assignment with the U.S. Army in Germany. She said she didn’t know if she was going to take the military route at the start of college, but a group of ROTC members made her feel at home. “They were really a group of kids who were just like me,” said Brig. Gen. Martin. “We all had common goals, we all had this feeling to serve and be apart of something that was bigger than ourselves.”

Martin said that’s where her love for the Army started nearly 30 years ago. “It never gets old… Every single assignment, every single move is a new adventure and I’m having a blast.” She called her new role one of the most important roles she has ever taken. She remembered the first time meeting her commandant at Fort McClellan in Alabama, where the U.S. Army Military Police School was before moving to Fort Leonard Wood. “I don’t know that I ever aspired to be the commandant, but I always looked up to this position,” she said. She described how the commandant would share his thoughts about the future and said ” we all bought it.” She said they all thought those conversations were amazing. “For me, 25 or 26 years later now to be assuming that role, it’s still kind of surreal.”

As for taking on this new role, she said she is excited to be apart of the team in Fort Leonard Wood. KSPR News asked what advice she had for anyone who finds her inspiring or looks to her for strength. She said it pretty simply, “You have to be determined, set a goal, and just work hard.”

To read and see more, go to: Historic Day at Fort Leonard Wood

Nadja West to Formally Become 1st Black Female Three-star General Next Week

General Nadja West
General Nadja West

article via thegrio.com

On Tuesday, February 9, Lt. Gen Nadja West will be honored in an official ceremony formalizing her promotion to three-star general, making her the first African-American woman to achieve that rank in the United States Army. She is also the highest-ranking woman of any race to have graduated from West Point.

The promotion and ceremony follows the 54-year-old’s confirmation by the Senate as the new Army Surgeon General and Commanding General, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) as of December. As such, West will be assisting and advising the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff in relation to all health care matters in the Army, in addition to overseeing development, organization, policy direction, and other matters relative to the Army-wide health care systems.

“I was once an orphan with an uncertain future,” said West of the promotion and the new responsibilities facing her in the future. “And I am incredibly honored and humbled to lead such a distinguished team of dedicated professionals who are entrusted with the care of our nation’s sons and daughters, veterans and family members. While our Army and our nation face tough challenges in the future, I am confident that collectively we have the right skills, commitment, and talent to meet those challenges with mission success,” she added.

To read more, go to: http://thegrio.com/2016/02/04/nadja-west-black-female-three-star-general/

Dr. Olivia Hooker, 1st Black Woman in U.S. Coast Guard, Honored with Training Facility & Dining Hall Dedications

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In 1945, Olivia Hooker, a 30-year-old black woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, joined the U.S. Coast Guard. The now-Dr. Olivia Hooker holds a PhD in psychology, worked until she was 87, and just turned 100 in February. But 70 years ago when she enlisted she became the Coast Guard’s first African-American woman on active duty.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 1.00.06 PMThursday, Coast Guard brass honored her by naming a dining hall on Staten Island in her honor. But 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.

“Oh, this is beyond my wildest dreams. I’d never even imagine,” Dr. Hooker said. “It’s still astonishing to me. I’m so grateful that the sun was shining today and we were able to get here.”

To see Fox5NY video of this story, click here.

Hooker grew up in a home that Klan members ransacked during the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

Basic training in Manhattan Beach and the duties of a yeoman first class at the Boston separation office where she worked — and from which she later wrote her own separation letter — looked and felt a lot different than Tulsa in 1921 or White Plains, N.Y., in 2005.

“I learned a lot more about people who grew up in different kinds of situations,” she said. “There are many, many more opportunities but there are still more challenges.”

Hooker’s goddaughter Diane Harris and a roomful of Coast Guard leadership traveled to Staten Island for Thursday’s ceremony.

“She doesn’t act like a 100-year-old to me,” Harris said.

“When I try to reach my toes and I can’t quite reach them, then I’m reminded,” Dr. Hooker said.

Five years ago, at age 95, Dr. Hooker joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the service’s civilian reserve.

article by Mac King via myfoxny.com

PROTEST: Hundreds Shut Down Decatur, GA For #AnthonyHill, U.S. Veteran Killed By Police

Anthony Hill Protest
Brandon Marshall carries a photo of Anthony Hill as protesters march through the street demonstrating Hill’s shooting death by a police officer, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman) 

Hundreds took to the streets of Decatur, Georgia yesterday, stopping traffic, chanting and holding signs like “Demilitarize the police” to protest the officer-involved shooting death of Anthony Hill, an unarmed 27-year-old black man in DeKalb County, a suburb of Atlanta.

Protesters, using hashtags like #Antlanta and #AnthonyHill are questioning the use of force against Hill, an Air Force veteran who was naked and unarmed, when he was shot and killed by a white police officer on Monday.

Activists announced the protest with an email asking this very question reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“Anthony was naked and unarmed at the time of the shooting, yet Officer Olsen found him to be enough of a threat to take his life.”

The officer who shot Hill, a seven-year veteran of the force has been identified by police as Robert Olsen, and has been placed on administrative leave, reports Reuters via The Huffington Post.

Hill was shot after he was dealing with what looked to be a mental health issue, said the DeKalb County police Chief Cedric Alexander on Monday. Alexander confirmed that police received a call about a man “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked.”

After “running towards a responding officer,” Hill was shot twice. Police found no weapon. Almost immediately, Twitter was flooded with the hashtags #AnthonyHill and #BlackLivesMatter.

Ironically, Hill had used the #BlackLivesMatter himself in the days before his death, reports Reuters:

“The key thing to remember is, #blacklivesmatter, ABSOLUTELY, but not moreso than any other life,” Hill wrote on his Facebook page on March 6.

In another post the same day, he said, “No man (or woman) is ever going to stop me from living the life I envision…Empower yourself. Show these kids that #blacklivesmatter by living yours like it does.”

Hill is at least the third African-American man since Friday who was unarmed when shot dead by police. Thousands have been rallying for the last few days in the streets of Madison Wisconsin for 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was killed by police last week. Aurora, Colorado police confirmed that Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, was unarmed when he was shot and killed with one bullet by police on Friday.

Hill’s shooting investigation went to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in an effort at “transparency.”

article by Angela Bronner Helm via newsone.com

Verna Jones Named American Legion’s First Female Executive Director

Verna JonesThe American Legion has named Verna Jones its new executive director, making her the first woman to lead the veterans’ organization in its nearly 100-year history.

Jones, an attorney and Army veteran who served as a personnel sergeant, stepped into her new role on Nov. 1. Legion spokesman Marty Callaghan said he believed that Jones is the organization’s first African-American executive director, but he couldn’t confirm it absolutely. Previously, she served as the director of the Legion’s veterans affairs and rehabilitation division.

“We’re still focused on the [Department of Veterans Affairs], the quality of health care, timeliness, the backlog, benefits — all the things that we’ve been focusing on, and the things that veterans need. Access to health care is huge for us,” Jones said in an interview with The Huffington Post in her new office.

Jones became the most animated when asked about sexual assault in the military, an issue that several members of the Legion, including Jones, have testified about before Congress. The organization has said the military needs to have a “zero tolerance policy” on the issue.

“To those people who may assault people, [we need to] let them know that we’re not going to stand for that, and there are some very serious consequences the first time,” said Jones. “So we’ve got to create programs, we’ve got to create awareness, and we have to be willing to say that military sexual trauma exists. Stop sweeping it under the rug and pretending it’s a small thing, because it’s not.

“There needs to be punishment,” she added. “Something punitive needs to happen. If you’re in the military and you sexually assault somebody, then you don’t need to be in the military anymore.”

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Michelle Howard Becomes U.S. Navy’s 1st Female 4-Star Admiral in its 238 Year History


ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) — The United States Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Janine Howard earned promotion to the rank of four-star admiral today during a ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.  Admiral Howard is now the first female four-star in the 238 year history of the United States Navy.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presided over the ceremony and administered the oath of office.  “Michelle Howard’s promotion to the rank of admiral is the result of a brilliant naval career, one I fully expect to continue when she assumes her new role as vice chief of naval operations, but also it is an historic first, an event to be celebrated as she becomes the first female to achieve this position,” said Mabus. “Her accomplishment is a direct example of a Navy that now, more than ever, reflects the nation it serves – a nation where success is not borne of race, gender or religion, but of skill and ability.”

“Michelle’s many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity,” said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations. “I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy’s newest 4-star Admiral!”

Howard, the Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, will relieve Adm. Mark Ferguson III as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) later this afternoon.  Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.

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