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Hazel Brown Was The First Black Female General In The US Army
In a world that is given to limiting the experiences of women simply because of their gender, the achievements of Hazel Brown is most laudable. In 1979 and at 52 years, Brown became the first black woman to have been made a general in the United States Army and topped this achievement with her appointment as first chief of the Army Corps of Nurses.
Brown’s journey to attaining such desirable heights is not a story that is easy on the ears. She had not initially planned to enlist in the army. But right after her dreams of going to nursing school at Pennsylvania’s, West Chester had been shattered, she began to contemplate the option. She had sat in that office with the director of the school who rejected her, saying, “We’ve never had a black person in our program, and we never will.”
But Brown was unstoppable, she forged ahead with the same vision and a new school in mind and through the help of Elizabeth Fritz, a family friend who had likewise inspired her to be a nurse, fought her way into the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing from which she graduated in 1950 at 23 years.
She swiftly rose to the position of head nurse at her job, an appointment that attracted a lot of shrugged shoulders and disapproving glances from white colleagues. A co worker literally complained to her that she didn’t deserve the promotion and Brown had reminded her in a rather memorable manner that she had not made herself head nurse and if she was so upset she could take up the matter with a senior personnel. The woman quit instead.
Seven years after the president had just desegregated the United States Army in the executive order 1981 which read; there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin, Brown enlisted in the army handling neurosurgical related activities.
She after enlisting pursued a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Villanova in which she obtained in 1959, a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1963, and a doctorate in educational administration from Catholic University in 1978.
One year after earning her doctorate, the little girl who had grown up on a tomato farm among seven kids became amidst racial challengers, the highest ranking black woman in the US Army.
Brown’s story stands out to us as inspiring, not just because she is black, but because she is woman. She is prompt of the notion that women don’t have to attempt being men, that all they have to be is themselves and that this conclusion is very enough. General Hazel Brown is a cenotaph of what is expressed clearly in a quote by she herself where she says; I am not afraid.