Note: This is the eighth installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series. For other articles, click here.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Olivia Hooker was the first black woman to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard, and this week she’s celebrating a big milestone.

“I’m 99, and if I’m still here on the 12th, I’ll be a hundred,” Hooker told WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving.

During World War II, after blacks were allowed into the Navy, Hooker applied twice.

“They wrote there is a technicality,” she said. “They didn’t tell me what. So I thought, ‘Well, let me ask the secretary of the Navy what is the problem.’ He wrote back and said, ‘I don’t see any problem.'”

She was then welcomed into the Coast Guard serving alongside white recruits in Boston.

Hooker later became a child psychologist and a professor at Fordham University.


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