Black History: Special Delivery!!
Born in 1927, Hazel Johnson-Brown was the first African-American woman to be a Brigadier General in the United States Military in 1979. She joined the army in 1955 shortly after President Truman banned segregation in the armed services.
Hazel Johnson-Brown was one of 7 children. She was raised on her father’s farm in West Chester, PA. Inspired by a public health nurse at the age of 12, she decided that she too wanted to become a nurse one day. Her application to the West Chester School of Nursing in Pennsylvania was rejected because she was black. Undeterred, she moved to New York in 1947 and enrolled in Harlem Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated and took a job at Philadelphia Veteran’s Hospital in 1953. It was there that her co-workers encouraged her to join the Army. She initially enlisted for what she thought would be a two year tour. She excelled and quickly began to rise through the ranks.
She continued her education while in the army, eventually earning a masters degree in nursing education from Columbia University and a Ph.D in education administration from Catholic University. She retired from military service in 1983 and then pursued a second career in academia teaching at George Mason University and Georgetown University. She retired from academia in 1997. She currently lives in Washington D.C. area.
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