Inspecting a Grumman Wildcat engine on display at the U.S. Naval Training
School (WR) Bronx, NY, where she is a "boot" is WAVES Apprentice Seaman
Frances Bates, 1945*. The WAVES was the first branch of the USA military to
be truly integrated and the only one before the end of WWII; this happened
in 1944 after most of the photos in this gallery (besides this one) were
taken. Other service branches allowed African Americans to serve, but only
in separate "colored" units, or (in the case of the Coast Guard and the
Navy) to occupy only certain positions, such as cooks, waiters, or steward's
mates... "seagoing bellhops". True integration means that blacks and whites
lived and ate together, had access to the same training and jobs, and the
same access to promotions. After a prolonged and bitter struggle at high
levels of the Navy and in the Roosevelt administration, the President
ordered the full integration of the WAVES enlisted ranks and officer corps
in December 1944. The first two African-American WAVES officers, Ensign
Frances Wills and Lieutenant JG Harriet Pickens
, graduated from Naval
Reserve Midshipmen's School on December 21, and the enlistment of black
women began a week later. By July 1945 the Navy had trained 72
African-American WAVES at Hunter College in a fully integrated and routine
of World War II website.
||MacGregor, Morris J. Jr., Integration of the Armed Forces 1940-1965,
Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington DC (1981).
US Government Printing Office.