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Old Nov 23, 04, 5:58 pm   #1
 
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First Black airline flight attendant?

Does anyone know who the first black stewardess in the US was? What year and what airline?
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Old Nov 23, 04, 6:17 pm   #2
 
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Did a quick google search and came up with a consistent answer: Carol Taylor, Mohawk Airlines, February 11, 1958

link to short story
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Old Nov 24, 04, 8:40 am   #3
 
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Originally Posted by bluewatersail
Does anyone know who the first black stewardess in the US was? What year and what airline?
I don't know .. I am "color blind", as everybody should be
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Old Nov 25, 04, 8:41 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by USAFAN
I don't know .. I am "color blind", as everybody should be
Being color blind today doesn't mean denying the discrimination that people of African descent suffered for generations in the U.S. or ignoring the those who, like Jackie Robinson in baseball, were the first to break through this barrier in their own areas. Most of these pioneers aren't as well-known as Robinson, but that doesn't mean their job was easier or their contribution to those who followed in their footsteps was less important. Ms. Taylor deserves a great deal of credit, as do the (presumably white) managers who had more to lose and who gave her the job anyhow.
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Old Feb 4, 10, 6:57 pm   #5
 
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First Black Flight Attendant -- interview 2/5/2010!

The "first black flight attendant" is not a straightforward designation. History will probably award the "first" title to Patricia Edminston-Banks who applied to Capital airlines in 1956. Her initial interview went well, but she was turned down because of race. Patricia spent four years in court, ultimately winning the battle when Capital was compelled to hire her (or face contempt of court). During her four year battle Mohawk hired Ruth, and TWA also hired a black flight attendant, probably to avoid litigation. All three women have a claim to being "first."

Ultimately, ALL the early "negro stewardesses" deserve the honor of being remembered as courageous women who fought for the right to fly at a time when segregation and civil rights were being fought in the streets of America. Remember, it was not until 1964 that President Johnson announced the Civil Rights legislation that made segregation illegal in the US. It was several more years before segregation was actually ended. These women were in the vortex of that fight.

We have the great honor of having Patricia on our podcast radio show February 5 at 1 PM EST, along with several other women who worked as flight attendants in those early days. They are members of BFAOA -- Black Flight Attendants of America, Inc.

You can tune in live at www.skysteward.info You can listen anytime to the archived show (or download the podcast at iTunes).
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Old Feb 4, 10, 8:51 pm   #6
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Please continue to follow this very interesting discussion in the FT Newsstand.
Thanks..
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Old Feb 5, 10, 7:54 am   #7
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
Being color blind today doesn't mean denying the discrimination that people of African descent suffered for generations in the U.S. or ignoring the those who, like Jackie Robinson in baseball, were the first to break through this barrier in their own areas. Most of these pioneers aren't as well-known as Robinson, but that doesn't mean their job was easier or their contribution to those who followed in their footsteps was less important. Ms. Taylor deserves a great deal of credit, as do the (presumably white) managers who had more to lose and who gave her the job anyhow.


Being color-blind in fact is very dangerous for the reasons you cite.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 8:14 am   #8
 
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Being color-blind in fact is very dangerous for the reasons you cite.
In addition, being color-blind, while generally a good thing, can be dangerous when dealing with people who are not color-blind. Now as to gender-blindness... why limit the question to women? (I'm kidding, but a would demean the topic).

That being said, the question posed by the OP is certainly interesting... my wise-guy answer would probably be that the first black FA in the US was probably on a foreign carrier.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 8:20 am   #9
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my wise-guy answer would probably be that the first black FA in the US was probably on a foreign carrier.
That actually does raise a good point. I wonder what sort of treatment those people faced during their stopovers in the U.S. Remember, back then many hotels and restaurants discriminated, and they might have had limited access to airport facilities as well.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 10:20 am   #10
 
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Here she is:

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Old Feb 5, 10, 5:14 pm   #11
 
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Here she is:
Funny. Here's Carol Taylor... then... and now

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Old Feb 5, 10, 9:24 pm   #12
 
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to the people that gave them chance to work as flight attendants.
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Old Feb 6, 10, 11:21 pm   #13
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I don't know .. I am "color blind", as everybody should be
Being colour blind does not require ignoring the historical significance of the fact that until 1958 there were no black flight attendants.
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Old Feb 6, 10, 11:23 pm   #14
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to the people that gave them chance to work as flight attendants.
Gave them a chance!
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Old Feb 11, 10, 11:40 am   #15
 
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First Black FA's get my thanks

It became clear as I was researching the material for our interview with the first black flight attendants that I owe them my thanks.

I remember when President Johnson signed in the Civil Rights legislation in 1964 making discrimination illegal, and I remember how many years passed before discrimination was actually considered illegal. Though intended to address racial discrimination, the laws were used to fight discrimination based on gender, age, religion, etc. My working life, as a white woman, is vastly different than my mother's, and a good portion of that is because women, such as the first black flight attendants, had the courage to fight against the status quo.

By the way, it cannot be said that anyone "gave them a chance" to work. It took several years of litigation in the courts to force the doors to employment open for "negro stewardesses."

You can hear the wonderful interview at www.skysteward.info

BTW: the Black Flight Attendants of America, Inc (BFAOA) can be reached at BFAOA@AOL.COM They have a convention coming up this summer in Memphis.
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