One of the U.S. Army’s slogans is ”Be All You Can Be.” It seems Marcia Anderson took that saying to heart. She recently became the Army’s first Black female 2-star general.
She was promoted from brigadier general to major general during a ceremony at Fort Knox.
”Having worn the cloth of the nation as a U.S. Marine officer for over 30 years, it is another mile stone for us as African-American people and for the nation,” notes military expert Colonel John Boggs, who was the first Marine officer to serve as the National President of the National Naval Officers Association. ”We all, that is all Americans, benefit from this promotion. Not only is a more than qualified person being recognized for consistent superior service, the Army will benefit tremendously from the superior leadership Marcia Anderson brings to the table.”
Anderson, who has been in the military for three decades, will leave her post as deputy commanding general of the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox and move to the office of the chief of the U.S. Army Reserve in Washington, D.C.
Anderson comes from a military family. Her father, Rudy Mahan, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. While a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Anderson signed up for ROTC after being told the “military science” course would fill her science requirement. She reportedly initially did not consider the military as a career option. After fulfilling her eight-year commitment, she re-enlisted in the reserves. Soon after, she decided she wanted to make the military a career.
Black women have long contributed to the military, going back to the funding of America. During the Revolutionary War, many Black women acted as spies. According to written accounts of the war, Black women disguised themselves as men and fought against the British. During the Civil War, most famously, abolitionist Harriet Tubman served as a Union spy, an unpaid soldier, a volunteer nurse, and a freedom fighter. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.
According to Boggs, Black women have a history of success in the military, despite the obstacles of racism and sexism. “African-American women as a group, I believe, are the most successful in the country, second only to white males over 50. In the armed forces, it seems that is not the case,” says Boggs, CEO of Elegua Consulting, Inc.
Despite the achievements, the military has been slow to acknowledge the efforts of Black women. But adds Boggs, “Sure it has taken too long. Is that what we should dwell on? Absolutely not,” he stresses. “Let’s celebrate Major General Anderson and applaud the Army for getting it right.”