First Black Woman to Serve as Major General Laid to Rest at Arlington National Cemetery

Major General Marcelite Jordan Harris, the first Black woman to serve as a major general in the U.S. military, was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on Feb. 7, alongside her husband, Lt. Col. Maurice Harris, USAF (Ret.).

Harris died unexpectedly on Sept. 7, 2018, at age 75. She served more than 30 years in the U.S. Air Force in a variety of capacities.

Born Jan. 16, 1943 in Houston, Harris graduated from Kashmere High School before enrolling at Spelman College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1964. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Harris also received an honorary doctorate of letters from Spelman and earned a B.S. in Business Management at the University of Maryland University College.

The trailblazer received her commission through Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in 1965. During her tenure in the U.S. Air Force, she was the first woman aircraft maintenance officer and one of the first two women air officers commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

It was a revolutionary time for women to be in the workforce.

“This was during the late 1960s,” Harris told the Department of Defense in a 2013 interview. “The late ’60s saw us do away with the draft. We saw civilian women going for equal pay with upward mobility. The world was just changing itself. Women were burning bras and everything in protest.”

In 1975, she was named White House social aide and personnel staff officer under the presidential administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

She made history in 1991 when she became the first African-American female Brigadier General in the Air Force. Then, in 1994, she was named the first female director of maintenance and deputy chief of staff for logistics at the U.S. Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

At the Pentagon, she managed a workforce of more than 125,000 technicians and managers and maintained the $260 billion Global Reach-Global Power aerospace weapons system inventory; she was promoted to Major General, according to her published obituary.

Her promotion made her the highest-ranking woman in the Air Force, and the highest-ranking Black woman in the entire Department of Defense. Before retiring in 1997, Harris helped establish a permanent office for the Committee on Women in NATO within the organization’s existing Military Committee.

Former President Obama appointed Harris to the Board of Visitors of the Air Force Academy, from 2010 to 2016.

As well as having a thriving career, Harris also raised two children, Tenecia Harris and Lt. Col. Steven Harris.

The mother and history-maker offered the following career advice for those following her footsteps:

“Know your job and do it well. Know your people,” she said, in an interview. “Nothing is denied you by going into the military. You are important. You’re important to the mission and to the United States. You’re important to the president. You are important, and that’s what matters.”

Harris was named Woman of the Year by the National Organization of Tuskegee Airmen in 1990, honored with the Trailblazer Award by the Black Girls Rock foundation, and received the Living Legacy Patriot Award by the Women’s International Center, to name a few accolades.

A celebratory memorial service at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery followed the burial.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Latest News

impeachment, Nancy Pelosi, Donald Trump

Nancy Pelosi Says U.S. House of Representatives Will Proceed With Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.  In an announcement on Capitol Hill, Pelosi said “the president leaves us no choice” in pursuing the impeachment. “In the course of today’s events it becomes necessary for…

PwC: The Future of Recruiting

Originally published on PwC.com. What do job seekers want? Your recruiting practices could be driving candidates away. Giving every applicant a great experience can change that. Imagine finding the candidate of your dreams—great skills, deep experience, and a terrific cultural fit. You’ve spent weeks getting to know them, talking to…

Kaiser Permanente Takes Workforce Health to Heart

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente The American Heart Association recognizes Kaiser Permanente’s actions to support employee health and well-being. When Don Nishita, a Kaiser Permanente employee and a Total Health Champion in the IT department decided to foster a healthier work environment for himself and his team, he turned to…

Hilton Opens 700 New Work-From-Home Positions

Post Courtesy of Hilton New openings with the #1 company to work for in the U.S. offer remote work opportunities across the country Hilton has announced the creation of 700 new full-time work-from-home positions, significantly expanding its remote career program and flexible work opportunities across the United States. As part…

Wells Fargo: Giving Students a Head Start on Financial Education

Originally published on stories.wf.com by Dustin Wilson and Jessica Pacek Leah Johnson is using the financial lessons she learned at Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Teacher Quality and Retention Program Summer Institute to teach her fourth-grade students in Texas how to spend and save their money wisely. When Leah Johnson attended…