Black women are rising up the ranks in the military and making history in the process. According to the Navy Times, Lieutenant Junior Grade Madeline Swegle recently became the first Black woman tactical air pilot in the U.S. Navy.
Lt. j.g. Swegle—who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017—completed the undergraduate Tactical Air (Strike) pilot training program, leading her to the historic accomplishment. There will be a ceremony held for Swegle on July 31 to honor her milestone.
“We are at a critical inflection point for our Nation and our Navy and I want to ensure that we are fully responding to this moment as we work to facilitate enduring change,” the Navy’s Chief of Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr. said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “We must use the momentum created by these events as a catalyst for positive change. We need to have a deeper inclusion and diversity conversation in our Navy and amongst our own teams.” Amid the unrest, the Navy revealed an initiative dubbed Task Force One Navy to address systemic racism within its branch and better support underserved communities.
Lt. j.g. Swegle stands on the shoulders of many Black women who have broken racial and gender barriers in the military. In 1949 Annie E. Graham became the first African American woman to enlist in the Marine Corps. Capt. Vernice Armour was the first Black woman naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veteran Michelle Howard was the first woman four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy and the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship.