How Captain Marvel Highlights Black Women in the Military

One of the best parts of Captain Marvel is its cast of women. From Brie Larson to Gemma Chan, the film has assembled an all-star cast of women to take on Captain Marvel’s story. One of those characters is Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau. She’s Carol’s best friend and the mother of Monica Rambeau.

In the comics, Monica Rambeau was a harbor patrol officer who was exposed to extra-dimensional energy. It gave her the ability to convert her body to energy and to control energy blasts. She can manipulate every sort of energy on the spectrum. Currently going by the name Spectrum in Marvel Comics, she’s a major player in the Ultimates. The Ultimates, a team consisting of Blue Marvel (Adam Bernard Brashear), T’Challa, Miss America, and Captain Marvel herself, cut quite a swath across the cosmic parts of the Marvel Universe. They would be a perfect team for the MCU.

In the MCU, however, fans will be introduced to Maria and Monica at the beginning of their respective careers. The film is focusing on the difficulties that women face in the military. While Carol herself is a rarity,  Maria would face difficulties that Carol couldn’t relate to. While fans focus on Captain Marvel, we wanted to take a moment to honor Maria Rambeau’s peers. In honor of Captain Marvel, here are 5 notable black women in US military history.

Susie Baker King Taylor

Susie Baker King Taylor served with the 33rd United States Colored Troops Volunteers. Born the daughter of slaves, Baker was able to secretly attend two schools organized to teach slaves that were run by black women. Baker fled to St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. While there, she organized the first freedman’s school in Georgia. She became the first black teacher to teach freed slaves in Georgia.

Susie married Edward King, a noncommissioned black officer. She served with her husband’s unit as a nurse and laundress. After her husband passed, she remarried and traveled throughout Georgia, founding schools for freed slaves. Taylor was the first woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.

Susie Baker King Taylor – More Information

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is an iconic figure in American history. Born a slave, she educated herself and returned to the south to help free other slaves. When she joined the army as a nurse, she also served as a scout and a spy for the Union Army. She recruited a group of slaves to act as spies and report on rebel camps to the Union Army. She gave up her army rations to help feed local freed slaves and baked pies and sold root beer to soldiers.  

In 1863, she joined General Montgomery and 150 black soldiers and raided one of the Confederate army’s gunboats. Promising that the boats would take slaves to freedom, over 700 people rushed the boats. 100 of them went on to enlist in the US Army.

Harriet Tubman  – More Information

Margaret E Bailey

Margaret E Bailey was a black nurse during World War II. She was the first nurse to be promoted to Colonel. By 1943, 183 black soldiers were commissioned members of the United States Army. By the conclusion of the war, over 600 black nurses had served in all theaters of the war. Bailey accepted a commission in 1944. On July 15, 1964, Colonel Bailey became the first black person promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Army Nurse Corps. In 1970, Bailey became a full Colonel.

Margaret E Bailey published her autobiography, Challenge: The autobiography of Colonel Margaret E Bailey. During her career and into her retirement, she continued to advocate for the full integration of the army and support it’s female minority members.

Margaret E Bailey – More Information

Hazel W Johnson-Brown

Hazel Johnson-Brown was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1927. Inspired to become a nurse by a local white public health nurse, her initial application to nursing school was denied because she was black. She moved to Harlem and attended the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing in 1947 during World War II. Johnson enlisted in 1955 after President Truman ended segregation in the US military.

Johnson-Brown served as a nurse in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After getting a doctorate in education, she trained nurses and was Assistant Dean of the University of Maryland’s medical school. She was promoted to Brigadier General in 1979 and became the first black person to serve as the Army’s chief nurse.

Hazel Johnson-Brown – More Information

Ensign Matice Wright

Matice Wright grew up in Annapolis Maryland and joined the Navy to serve her country. After attending the naval academy, she earned her wings. After transferring to the civilian sector she earned an MBA from John Hopkins University. She also worked for the Obama administration and is recognized as America’s first black female navy pilot.

Matice Wright – More Information

As a part of Women’s History Month, we’ll be looking at the accomplishments of women in the military, one for each powerful character in Captain Marvel. Are you excited to see where Maria and Monica might go in the MCU? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Captain Marvel is now in theaters.