Black Women in the U.S. Navy: A Fun Fact

December 13, 2011  |  

Here’s something we bet you didn’t know. We learned from that on this day, December 13, in 1944 black women were allowed to join the U.S. Navy’s office training program.

The program, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), employed women as nurses and secretaries in the beginning and aviation mechanics, photographers, control tower operators, and intelligence personnel as the program progressed.

Initially, Navy officials thought that once the war was over the women would no longer be needed or used, hence the word “emergency”; however, that’s not the way it played out. Women would serve in the program long after President Franklin Roosevelt signed the act into law in 1942.

When black women were admitted into the program two years later, they accounted for one for every 36 women in the Navy at the time.

The WAVES program became obsolete in 1948, when Congress signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, making it possible for women to hold permanent positions in all military branches.

Well, that’s pretty awesome.


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