Watch: The Inspiring Story of Annie N. Graham, the 1st Black Woman in the Marine Corps

March 8, 2021Ethan E. Rocke
Annie Neal Graham, first African American woman in the Marine Corps, first Black female Marine
“My mother was a patriot. She was proud to have served in the Marines,” Stephanie Gilliard-Sheard says in an interview, describing Sgt. Annie Graham, the first African American woman in the Marine Corps. “She was courageous to decide to go and do what she did.”

Gilliard-Sheard spoke with Cpl. Roxanna Ortiz and Staff Sgt. Connor Hancock of the 1st Marine Division Jan. 28 and shared an old letter her mother wrote about her service as a Marine. Ortiz and Hancock highlighted the unique piece of history, telling the story of Graham’s history-making service in the video below.

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“Back then it was a man’s world. […] Now it’s so different for women,” Gilliard-Sheard says in the video. “They can do just about any job — the same job as most men can do.”

Annie Graham blazed a path for future generations of Black women in the Marine Corps when she enlisted on Sept. 8, 1949. She served until 1952, and her legacy persists today.

Ethan E. Rocke
Ethan E. Rocke

Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.

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