Olivia Hooker

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Olivia Hooker
Olivia Hooker DVIDS1101558.jpg
Hooker in 2011
Olivia Juliette Hooker

(1915-02-12)February 12, 1915
DiedNovember 21, 2018(2018-11-21) (aged 103)
Education Ohio State University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
University of Rochester (PhD)
Military career
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Service/branchEnsign of the United States Coast Guard.svg  United States Coast Guard
Years of service1945–1946
Rank Yeoman Second Class
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal

Olivia Juliette Hooker (February 12, 1915 – November 21, 2018) was an American psychologist and professor. She was one of the last known survivors of the Tulsa race riots of 1921, and the first African-American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard in February 1945. She became a SPAR (Semper Paratus Always Ready), a member of the United States Coast Guard Women's Reserve, during World War II, earning the rank of Yeoman, Second Class during her service. [1] [2] She served in the Coast Guard until her unit was disbanded in mid-1946; she went on to become a psychologist intern at a women's correctional facility and a clinical professor at Fordham University. [3] [4]

Tulsa race riot Mass racist attack in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA in May–June 1921

The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It has been called "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history." The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district — at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as "Black Wall Street".

United States Coast Guard Coastal defense, search & rescue, and law enforcement branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the coastal defense, search & rescue, and maritime law enforcement branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country's seven uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. This has happened twice: in 1917, during World War I, and in 1941, during World War II.


The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women's Reserve, known as the SPARS, was the World War II women's branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 23 November 1942. This authorized the acceptance of women into the reserve as commissioned officers and at the enlisted level, for the duration of the war plus six months. Its purpose was to release officers and men for sea duty and to replace them with women at shore stations. Dorothy C. Stratton was appointed director of the SPARS, with the rank of lieutenant commander and later promoted to captain. She had been the Dean of Women on leave from Purdue University, and an officer in the WAVES. Stratton is credited with creating the nautical name of SPARS.


Early life and education

Hooker was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to Samuel Hooker and Anita Hooker (née Stigger). [5] [6] From May 31st to June 1st members of the Ku Klux Klan invaded and ransacked Hooker's home along with many other African American homes for revenge. She avoided the violence by hiding under a table with her three siblings. [7] [8] She sought justice by becoming a founder of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in hopes of demanding reparations for the riot's survivors. [2] However, in 2003 she was among the survivors of the riot to file an unsuccessful federal lawsuit seeking reparations. [9]

Muskogee, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Muskogee is a city in and the county seat of Muskogee County, Oklahoma, United States. Home to Bacone College, it lies approximately 48 miles southeast of Tulsa. The population of the city was 39,223 as of the 2010 census, a 2.4 percent increase from 38,310 at the 2000 census, making it the eleventh-largest city in Oklahoma.

Ku Klux Klan American white supremacy group

The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group, whose primary target is African Americans. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the First Klan used terrorism – both physical assault and murder – against politically active blacks and their allies in the South in the late 1860s, until it was suppressed around 1872. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.

After the riots, her family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in 1937 from The Ohio State University and taught third grade. [10] While at OSU, she joined the Delta Sigma Theta sorority where she advocated for African-American women to be admitted to the U.S. Navy. [11] In 1947, she received her Masters from the Teachers College of Columbia University, [12] and in 1961 she received her PhD in clinical psychology with the ending of her dissertation on the learning abilities of children with Down syndrome from the University of Rochester. [13]

Columbus, Ohio Capital of Ohio

Columbus is the state capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 892,533 as of 2018 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US and the second-most populous city in the Midwest. It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.

Ohio State University public research university in Columbus, Ohio, United States

The Ohio State University (OSU), commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a large public research university in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and the ninth university in Ohio with the Morrill Act of 1862, the university was originally known as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The college originally focused on various agricultural and mechanical disciplines but it developed into a comprehensive university under the direction of then-Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, and in 1878 the Ohio General Assembly passed a law changing the name to "The Ohio State University". The main campus in Columbus, Ohio, has since grown into the third-largest university campus in the United States. The university also operates regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and Wooster.

Delta Sigma Theta Historically Black sorority

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a Greek-lettered sorority of college-educated women dedicated to public service with an emphasis on programs that target the African American community. Delta Sigma Theta was founded on January 13, 1913, by twenty-two collegiate women at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Membership is open to any woman who meets the requirements, regardless of religion, race, or nationality. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or through an alumnae chapter after earning a college degree.


U.S. Coast Guard

Olivia Hooker (front) with Aileen Anita Cooks (behind) on the USS Commodore (nicknamed USS Neversail) during boot training, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn Two Negro SPARS pause on the ladder of the dry-land ship `U.S.S. Neversail' during their `boot' training at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Station, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, NY.gif
Olivia Hooker (front) with Aileen Anita Cooks (behind) on the USS Commodore (nicknamed USS Neversail) during boot training, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

Hooker applied to the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) of the U.S. Navy, but was rejected due to her ethnicity. [13] She disputed the rejection due to a technicality and was accepted, however, she had already decided to join the Coast Guard. [14] She entered the U.S. Coast Guard in February 1945. On March 9, 1945, she was sent to basic training for six weeks in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, New York. Throughout training, Hooker became a Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARS) and had to attend classes and pass exams. She was one of only five African-American females to first enlist in the SPARS program. After basic training, Hooker specialized in the yeoman rate and remained at boot camp for an additional nine weeks before heading to Boston [14] where she performed administrative duties and earned the rank of Yeoman Second Class in the Coast Guard Women's Reserve. [9] In June 1946, the SPAR program was disbanded and Hooker earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class and a Good Conduct Award. [14] [15]

WAVES Womens branch of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II

The United States Naval Reserve , better known as the WAVES, was the women's branch of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II. It was established on July 21, 1942 by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 30. This authorized the U.S. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers and at the enlisted level, effective for the duration of the war plus six months. The purpose of the law was to release officers and men for sea duty and replace them with women in shore establishments. Mildred H. McAfee, on leave as president of Wellesley College, became the first director of the WAVES. She was commissioned a lieutenant commander on August 3, 1942, and later promoted to commander and then to captain.

Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City

Manhattan Beach is a residential neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east, by Sheepshead Bay on the north, and Brighton Beach to the west. Traditionally known as an Italian and Ashkenazi Jewish neighborhood, it is also home to a sizable community of Sephardi Jews and a large Russian Jewish immigrant presence. The community's street names, derived from England, are in alphabetical order from A to P, with the exception of Ocean Avenue.

New York (state) American state

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.


After receiving her Masters degree from the Teachers College of Columbia University, Hooker moved upstate to work in the mental hygiene department of a women's correctional facility in Albion County. [16] Many women in this facility were considered to have severe learning disabilities by staff. Hooker felt they were treated unfairly and re-evaluated them in hopes to help the women pursue better education and jobs after their time in the facility. She credited this success with "approaching them with an open mind." [11] The correctional facility today continues to help women earn a degree and job experience for when they are released.

Albion Correctional Facility is a medium security women's prison in Albion, New York, United States that is operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services. The site was founded in 1894 as the Western House of Refuge for Women, then later the Albion State Training School.

Albion, Orleans County, New York Town in New York, United States

Albion is a town in Orleans County, New York, United States. The population was 8,468 at the 2010 census. The town was named after a village in the town.

In 1963, she joined Fordham University as a senior clinical lecturer and an APA Honors psychology professor; eventually she served as an associate professor until 1985. [17]

Hooker was one of the founders of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Division 33, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and was later honored by the Association for her work with children. She served as an early director of the Kennedy Child Study Center in New York City [16] where she gave evaluations, extra help, and support/therapy to children with learning disabilities and delays.

Later Life and Legacy

Hooker retired at the age of 87. [2] She joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary at age 95 [7] and served as a auxiliarist in Yonkers, New York. [18]

On November 21, 2018, she died of natural causes in her home in White Plains, New York, at the age of 103. [19]

Hooker received the American Psychological Association Presidential Citation in 2011. [13] In 2012, she was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans' Hall of Fame. [10]

On February 9, 2015, Kirsten Gillibrand spoke in Congress to "pay tribute" to Hooker. [15]

In the same year, the Olivia Hooker Dining Facility on the Staten Island coast guard facility was named in her honor. [7] [20] A training facility at the Coast Guard's headquarters in Washington, D.C. was also named after her that same year. [21]

On May 20, 2015, President Barack Obama recognized Hooker's Coast Guard service and legacy while in attendance at the 134th Commencement of the United States Coast Guard Academy. [22]

On November 11, 2018, Google honored her by telling her story as part of a Google Doodle for the Veterans Day holiday. [23]

Hooker was also the subject in a book that focused on her experiences in the Tulsa Race riots called, Tulsa Girl, by Shameen Anthanio-Williams

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  1. Thiesen, William H. "SPAR Olivia Hooker: First African American Woman in the Coast Guard" (PDF). United States Coast Guard: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Coast Guard Names Training Facility After 1st Black Woman In Service". News One. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  3. MacKay, Jenna (October 19, 2017). "Profile: Olivia Hooker". Psychology's Feminist Voices. Archived from the original on October 19, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2018.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. Gay, Mara (February 28, 2015). "Olivia J. Hooker: Coast Guard Pioneer, Fordham Professor and Activist". Wall Street Journal. ISSN   0099-9660 . Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  5. Genzlinger, Neil (November 23, 2018). "Olivia Hooker, 103, Dies; Witness to an Ugly Moment in History". The New York Times .
  6. "Black History Month: Survivor Recalls 1921 Tulsa Race Riot". CBS News. February 12, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 "Dr. Olivia Hooker, 1st Black Woman in U.S. Coast Guard, Honored with Training Facility & Dining Hall Dedications". Good Black News. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  8. "Meet The Last Surviving Witness To The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921". National Public Radio. May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  9. 1 2 Gay, Mara (February 27, 2015). "Olivia J. Hooker: Coast Guard Pioneer, Fordham Professor and Activist". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  10. 1 2 Stewart-Cousins, Sen. Andrea (2012). "Dr. Olivia J. Hooker - New York State Senate". New York State Senate. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  11. 1 2 Miller, Anna (November 2012). "Living history: Pioneering psychologist and civil rights activist Olivia Hooker reflects on her legacy". American Psychological Association. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2015.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. Young, LT Stephanie (October 29, 2013). "Olivia Hooker: A SPAR's Story". U.S. Coast Guard. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  13. 1 2 3 MacKay, Jenna (2013). Profile of Olivia Hooker. In A. Rutherford (Ed.), Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet Archive. Retrieved on March 18, 2015 from this link.
  14. 1 2 3 Young, LT Stephanie (October 29, 2013). "Olivia Hooker: A SPAR's Story" . Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  15. 1 2 "Congressional Record, Volume 161 Issue 21 (Monday, February 9, 2015)". Gpo.gov. February 9, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  16. 1 2 Cautin, Robin L (April 2012). "The indomitable Dr. Olivia Hooker". The General Psychologist. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  17. Gay, Mara (February 27, 2015). "Olivia J. Hooker: Coast Guard Pioneer, Fordham Professor and Activist". WSJ. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  18. "US Coast Guard Honors TC Alum and Centenarian Olivia Hooker". Teachers' College Media Center, Columbia University. April 9, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  19. "Last survivor of Tulsa Race Massacre dies". KJRH. November 21, 2018. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  20. "Dr. Olivia Hooker Turns 100 | Juniper Hill Civic Association". Juniperhillny.com. February 7, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  21. "Coast Guard Names Training Facility After 1st Black Woman In Service". The Chicago Defender. March 16, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  22. "Remarks by the President at the United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement". whitehouse.gov. May 20, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  23. Godlewski, Nina (November 11, 2018). "Veterans Day Google Doodle Honors Veterans and their stories through videos". Newsweek. Retrieved November 22, 2018.