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December 21, 1944

Frances Wills and Harriet Pickens became the first female African-American U.S. Navy officers.

On December 21, 1944 Frances Wills and Harriet Pickens were commissioned as officers in the United States Navy and became the the first African-American women ever to receive such commissions.Commissioned as WAVES officers. they were the first female African-American U.S. Navy officers.


“Frances Wills (left) and Harriet Ida Pickens being sworn in as Apprentice Seamen by Lieutenant Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. In December 1944, they became the Navy’s first African-American “WAVES” officers.” Photo Credit: The American Solider
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