Dr. Olivia Hooker, the first African-American woman to actively enroll in the U.S. Coast Guard, was honored last week with not one, but two commemorative namesakes at the Guard’s training facilities.
The 100-year-old pioneer was honored in Staten Island at the USCG station on Thursday. A dining hall in the facility was named after Dr. Hooker, along with a training facility at the Coast Guard’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Hooker made history in 1945 when she enrolled in the Service and became the first African-American woman on active duty. Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the race riots of 1921, she says there’s been many changes over the past few decades, but more to come.
“I learned a lot more about people who grew up in different kinds of situations,” she said, according to My Fox NY, “There are many, many more opportunities but there are still more challenges.”
During her time with the Service, Dr. Hooker earned the Yeoman, Second Class rank. She also went on to found The Tulsa Race Riot Commission in hopes of demanding reparations for the less than a dozen survivors of one of the worst race riots in history.
Since then, she continued working and receiving degrees from Ohio State University, a Masters Degree in Psychological Services from Teachers College at Columbia University, and a Doctoral Degree from the University of Rochester. She finally decided to retire at the age of 87.
Dr. Hooker says she’s touched to be honored by the Coast Guard.
“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.”
Hooker is determined to keep her legacy alive — just five years ago, she enrolled in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Service’s civilian reserve.
SOURCE: My Fox NY | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty