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President Obama Nominates First Black Woman to Vice Chief of Naval Operations

44th NAACP Image Awards - Show President Obama  last week nominated Vice Admiral Michelle Howard for vice chief of naval operations.  If confirmed, Howard will not only be the first woman to become a full admiral, but will also be the first African-American to hold the Navy’s No. 2 position.

This isn’t Howard’s first time breaking the glass ceiling. She was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy warship, as well as the first to command an expeditionary strike group at sea. She was also the first female Naval Academy graduate to become a rear-admiral.

Howard has discussed being a minority woman commanding a warship. She told Time:

“For some of the sailors, it was a big deal—not because of the woman thing, but because of the African-American thing. I literally had people coming up, wanting to have their picture taken with me — this is the first time this has happened, where a minority woman has had command of a ship.”

She also praised the Navy for meritocracy over racial or gender preference: “What’s great about the Navy is that, despite the few knuckleheads that exist, there are a lot of folks who are professional and who will grade you on your performance and not on how you look,” she said.

The Navy finally joins the Army and the Air Force in appointing female four-star officers. Here’s hoping that Howard’s nomination means barriers and breaking for other women in the armed forces.


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