Nurses in the Military

When did the Coast Guard’s Women’s Reserve admit black women?

The Coast Guard’s Women’s Reserve was created on November 23, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 772. The Women’s Reserve became known by an acronym based on the Coast Guard’s motto: “Semper Paratus—Always Ready,” or SPAR. Black women were initially denied admission into the organization. In October 1944, the first black SPAR was Yeoman Second Class Olivia Hooker (c. 1922–). A twenty-two-year-old high school graduate, Hooker had worked in a clerical or sales position before joining the SPARs. Most SPARs enlisted for six years; thus, by December 1944 SPAR recruiting virtually ended. Altogether, only five black women were recruited for SPARs, representing tokenism; they were trained at Manhattan Beach Training Station in New York and were assigned to district offices of the Coast Guard without regard to race.


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