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Harriet Ida Pikens and Frances Wills
On this date in 1944, the Navy integrated their Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, better known as WAVES.
Up to that time, Black women were barred from the WAVES. The efforts of Mildred McAfee and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune helped the Secretary of the Navy push through the admittance of Black women into military service.
The first two Black WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Wills were sworn in on December 22 of that year. Of the 80,000 WAVES in World War II, 72 Black women served, usually under integrated conditions.