History will be made at the more than 200-year-old U.S. Military Academy at West Point as 34 Black women will graduate this week.
This will be West Point’s largest class of Black female cadets, according to CNN. For the first 75 years of its existence, Black people never graduated from the prestigious Academy.
Learning from the flaws in its history, West Point has been taking steps to become more inclusive. Last year, the Academy named Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams their first African-American commander, and Simone Askew the first Black woman to lead the Corps. West Point spokesperson Frank DeMaro also said that 19 Hispanic female cadets are projected to graduate in the May 25 ceremony, as well.
“My hope when young Black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability and fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” cadet Tiffany Welch-Baker told the website Because of Them We Can.
West Point graduated its first Black cadet in 1877, according to the National Park Service. More than a century later, the first class that included women graduated in 1980.
This year marks 30 years since the first woman was named Captain of the Corps.
Col. Kristin Baker went on to command Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe-Analytic Center. This year also marks 40 years since they named the first African-American to the same role. Vincent K. Brooks retired as general in 2018.
Many took to Twitter to congratulate the history-making women:
Congratulations to these trailblazing ladies!! West Point’s class of 2019 includes a historic number of African-american women. 34!! It’s the highest number in the military academy’s 217-year-history. pic.twitter.com/4zUkEbueYD
— Jennifer Epstein (@jenepsteinfox13) May 17, 2019
As pictured, when I was a @WestPoint_USMA cadet, being the only “pop of color” was the norm. Today, the Academy graduates its largest # of AA women!!
— Brian Paul (@B_Paul06) May 18, 2019
This makes me very proud. The lone brown dot in this picture is my father. West Point Class of 1972. pic.twitter.com/H6Ab4NTQ39
— De (@deirdreb0406) May 18, 2019
West Point tweeted on Sunday:
Today officially kicks off Graduation Week here at #WestPoint, the culmination of the entire 47-month experience.
— U.S. Military Academy (@WestPoint_USMA) May 19, 2019