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Legislator Honors Lifetime Accomplishments Of Greenburgh's Olivia Hooker

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins at ceremony honoring Olivia Hooker.
State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins at ceremony honoring Olivia Hooker. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Olivia Hooker, a civil rights activist and the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, was nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators and introduced for a State Senate resolution by Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins on her 100th birthday, which falls during Black History Month.

The award and a copy of the resolution were presented to Hooker, a Greenburgh resident, during an event in her honor held by the Yonkers Human Rights Commission at the Hudson River Museum on Feb. 21.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has spent a lifetime accepting responsibility for social, political and economic empowerment with communities of color. In essence, a person who has been an inspiration and a catalyst for change.

The Senate resolution recognized Hooker’s 100th birthday on Thursday, Feb. 12, and also details her extraordinary life and accomplishments.

“At 100 years old, one cannot help but be in awe of Dr. Olivia Hooker and her achievements as a civil and equal rights pioneer,” said Stewart-Cousins.

“During World War II, she was part of an organized effort to overturn the prohibition of black women from joining the Armed Services, and became the first African-American female to serve in the United States Coast Guard. After the war, her love of learning and willingness to help others led her to pursue a doctorate degree in psychology at a time when she was one of two African-American female students in the Ph.D. program.”

Hooker earned her bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University and became a teacher, before joining the Coast Guard during World War II.

After being discharged, she went on to earn her master’s degree in psychological services from Columbia University at a time when few women of color were given the opportunity.

She became a psychologist at Albion State School, then senior psychologist at the Bedford Hills Prison for Women. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.

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