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First Black Woman in US Coast Guard Honored at 97: She Overcame Racial Violence to Live Exemplary Life

Inspired - Individuals

97 y-o Dr. Olivia Hooker - Coast Guard photoAfter being the target of terrible racial violence as a young black girl in Oklahoma, Dr. Olivia Hooker went on to fight prejudice throughout her distinguished career as the first African American woman to be accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard (in 1945) and as a psychologist who showed respect for all people.

New York's Westchester County recently presented her with the Civic Engagement Betty Shabazz Award as a part of their annual Black History Month Trailblazers ceremony.

Yet, the 97-year-old hopes that one day there will be no need for a Black History Month. It will be simply known as history.

“I learned about the importance of keeping people to their duties without insulting or mistreating them,” said Hooker. “[Being in the military] teaches you how to better form relationships, and how to deal with people without bias and prejudice. It not only teaches you to be tolerant, but how to be creative and step up to the plate.”

She never lost faith in humanity, even as a prison psychologist at the Bedford Correctional Facility for Women.

“I still believe there is good in everyone,” said Hooker. “Maybe they’ve done a heinous crime, but somewhere there is good that can be brought out.

(READ the story by Dina Sciortino in

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard

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I think there needs to be a change of consciousness with the news ... to try to seek a higher ground. Why can't it be more representative of the way the world really is? I think we don't know what the bombardment of crime and violence does to our minds, I think we're in denial about it.

- Oprah Winfrey


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