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Wed, 03.17.1909

Harriet Pickens, Naval Officer born

Harriett Pickens

*Harriet Pickens was born on this date in 1909.  She was a Black administrator and Naval officer. 

From New York City, Harriet Ida Pickens was the daughter of William Pickens, one of the founders of the NAACP.  She graduated from Wadleigh High School in 1926 and then from Smith College in 1930.  Returning to New York, she earned a master’s degree in political science from Columbia University.  After college, she worked as the Supervisor of Recreation in the New Deal WPA

The July 1939 issue of “The Crisis,” the NAACP’s monthly magazine, published an article about her moving into the job of Executive Secretary of the Harlem Tuberculosis and Health Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association.  In the Fall of 1944, the US Navy opened the doors of officer's candidacy to Black women and Pickens, along with Frances Wills, became the first women of African descent to become officers in the US Navy

Pickens would lead the physical training sessions for all further WAVES recruits.  After the war, Pickens went back to work as a public health administrator in Harlem and the New York City Commission on Human Rights before succumbing to the effects of a stroke in 1969.  Lieutenant Harriet Ida Pickens died in 1970. 

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