• African American Women and the Military Introduction
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Ware Memorial Scholarship is to provide educational awards for deserving young African-American Women.

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Center for African American Studies at UT Arlington

African American women have played a role in every war effort in United States history
African-American women continued to serve in the Korean Conflict. As political and military leaders considered instituting a peacetime draft, it occurred to some that if volunteer servicewomen, who had filled manpower needs during World War II, could be used to fill the military’s increasing need for office workers, fewer men would have to be drafted. Cost comparisons revealed that training men was more expensive than training women. The main reason for the cost difference was that young men frequently had dependents who required housing, medical care, and other allowance. Women, on the other hand, were not accepted into the military if they had under-age dependents.

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African American women's global journeys and the construction of cross-ethnic racial identity
African American women have played a role in every war effort in United States history. They endured physical discomfort and personal criticism, while many of their contributions were unrecognized and unrewarded. They placed themselves in danger’s path – offering their abilities and strengths to preserve values and ensure freedom. Women stood side by side with fathers, husbands, and sons to nurse and comfort the suffering; they engaged in the danger of spying, chronicled the pain of war, and offered spiritual healing (Sheafer, 1996). In addition, black women faced racial and gender discrimination as part of their military service. Nevertheless, there were a number of “breakthrough” moments as they persistently pursued their right to serve.
These pioneering women simultaneously mastered the art of building and sustaining family and community life while dealing with wars. They were practiced folk healers, skilled seamstresses, quilters, knowledgeable parents, gardeners, cooks, and kept a storehouse of history and communal information. They knew how to press their skills into service for others. Throughout history, their networking and institution-building skills and their commitment to caring and sharing found expression in educational and health care efforts, campaigns to support the troops, and protests against many forms of discrimination (Lemke-Santangelo, 2003).
Black women have always been active participants in the military. They were always there!

 

AAII - African American Islamic Institute

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Terrell was a writer, educator, suffragist, and civil rights activist as well as a prime mover among Black women suffragists and clubwomen of the 20th century. She was the daughter of a millionaire from Memphis, Tennessee, where her father Robert, a former slave, rose to become a wealthy landowner. Educated at Oberlin College where she earned both an undergraduate and a Masters degree, Mary Church moved to the nation’s capital to teach at the famous M Street High School where she met and married the principal, Robert Church. She became a leader of the Black community’s social and civic life, and the first African American woman appointed to the school board in the District of Columbia. She was a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, adopting the mainstream feminist ideas and suffrage strategies. When two major African American women’s clubs merged to become the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896, Terrell was elected its first president. She founded the National Association of College Women which became the National Association of University Women. She was widely published in both the Black and white press.

African American women are credited with handing Doug Jones his historic victory in the Alabama Senate race. We spoke to some of them about why voting matters to them.
For the first time in military history, African-American females had an official organization where they found leadership and direction to use their abilities. The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses was founded in 1909. In 1917, the co-founder of the Red Cross urged black nurses to enroll in the American Red Cross, although they were not accepted until two months before the war ended in November 1918. African-American females continued to serve by making bandages, taking over jobs that men held so they could be soldiers, working in hospitals and troop centers, and serving in other relief organizations as they had in previous wars. Many served in Hostess Houses operated by the Young Women's Christian Association, where they wrote letters home for illiterate soldiers and read incoming mail to them (Hodges, 1995).


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The Army had the Women's Army Corps (WAC); the Navy had the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES); and the Coast Guard had the SPARS. The majority of African-American women served in the WAC. They remained in segregated units, as did the African-American men. Although the Navy intended to increase the number of African-Americans to 10%, there were still less than 50 black WAVES by 1945 (Hodges, 1995). The efforts of Director Mildred McAfee and Mary McLeod Bethune helped Secretary of the Navy Forrestal push through their admittance. Two black WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Wills, were sworn in on December 22, 1944. Of the 80,000 WAVES, a total of 72 black women served under integrated conditions (womensmemorial, 2010).

List of African-American firsts - Wikipedia

African American women were in a difficult position. Sometimes they worked in their own clubs and suffrage organizations, sometimes with white suffragists. Black women did not accept their exclusion from white suffrage organizations or the racist tactics employed by white suffragists. In the twentieth century, more and more Black women joined the ranks of suffragists as the movement progressed.

Bridget "Biddy" Mason - Distinguished Women

Sharpley-Whiting is the author of Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women and editor of The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union.” The director of the African American and Diaspora Studies Program at Vanderbilt, Sharpley-Whiting is also Distinguished Professor of French and director of the William T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies at Vanderbilt.