Women have been serving in the Armed Forces in a variety of capacities since before women were even allowed to officially wear the uniform. African American women specifically, served in both gender and race-segregated units until President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military. These women continued to make strides while in uniform after the U.S. Armed Forces allowed people of all ethnicities to serve alongside each other.
Check out this list of notable women who served.
Lieutenant General Stayce D. Harris, first African American female three-star general.
Lt.Gen. Harris currently serves as the Inspector General of the Air Force. She commissioned through the University of Southern California's Air Force ROTC program in 1981 and served in the active component until joining the Air Force Reserves in 1991. She's cataloged more than 2,500 hours in a military aircraft and flown a C-130H, KC-135R, C-141B/C, T-38 and T-37.
Maj. Della H. Raney, Army Nurse Corps, first African American chief nurse commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps.
Born in 1912, Maj. Raney was one of the approximately 500 black nurses that served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II. She graduated from the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing in Durham, N.C. and retired in 1978.
Command Sgt. Maj. Michele S. Jones, first female division command sergeant major and first African American woman command sergeant major of the Army Reserve.
Sgt. Maj. Jones was selected as the ninth command sergeant major of the Army Reserve in 2003 and at one time was the highest-ranking enlisted African American female in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. She also served as the Director of External Veterans/Military Affairs and Community Outreach for the office of President Barack Obama. Jones, served 25 years in the Army and retired in 2007.
Lt. Commander (Sel.) La’Shanda Holmes, U.S. Coast Guard, first female African American helicopter pilot.
A graduate of Spelman College, a historically black college, LTJG. Holmes received her aviator wings in 2010. During her ceremony, she was pinned by Lt. Jeanine Menze, the first African American female aviator in the Coast Guard. She has managed over 6,800 flight hours for the MH-65 and was appointed to the 2015-2016 class of White House Fellows.
Brigadier General Lorna Mahlock, first black female Marine briadier general
In 2018, the Marine Corps announed then Col. Mahlock was slated to become the first black, female one-star general. She enlisted in 1985 and according to Business Insider, commissioned as an air traffic controller in 1991 and deployed three times with Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38.