Lt. Gen. Nadja West this year became the first black female lieutenant general and the highest-ranking woman to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy.
In “The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell” author and Retired Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning, wrote: “For more than 200 years, African-Americans have participated in every conflict in United States history. They have not only fought bravely the common enemies of the United States but have also had to confront the individual and institutional racism of their countrymen.”
In addition to Lt. Gen. West here are some other firsts for blacks in the military:
2012: Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III. First black vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army and first black commander of U.S. Central Command.
2011: Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson. The Army’s first black female reserve officer to obtain the rank of major general.
2004: Command Sgt. Maj. Evelyn Hollis. First black female command sergeant major of a combat arms unit.
2003: Command Sgt. Maj. Michele S. Jones. First black female command sergeant major of the Army Reserve.
1989: Gen. Colin L. Powell. First black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
1987: Maj. Gen. Fred A. Gorden. First black commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.
1980: Gen. Vincent K. Brooks. First black U.S. Military Academy cadet brigade commander or “First Captain”.
1979: Brig. Gen. Hazel Johnson-Brown. First black chief of the Army Corps and first black female brigadier general.
1977: Clifford L. Alexander Jr. First black secretary of the Army.
1975: Gen. Roscoe Robinson Jr. First black four-star general.
1942: Maj. Della H. Raney. First black chief nurse commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corp.
1940: Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. First black general officer in the regular Army and the U.S. Armed Forces.
1877: 2nd Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper: First black cadet to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy.
1866: Cathay Williams. First black female to enlist in the Army.
1863: Sgt. William Carney. First black Medal of Honor recipient.