It’s not often that you get to celebrate stories of women getting a fair shake in a male-dominated environment. In the case of Charity Earley, she not only endured, but she also dominated. She became the first black commissioned officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. On top of that, she commanded a battalion of black women during WWII, the only battalion of its kind. With the many choices the army could have ve made in deciding on a leader she didn’t win the position because of luck, she earned it through hard work and bravery.
Born on December 5th 1917, Charity Adams Earley was the product of well educated parents who passed along ambition to their young daughter. She graduated valedictorian of her class at Booker T. Washington High School, earning her an easy spot at Wilberforce University in Ohio. She graduated and returned to South Carolina to study for her masters degree, but found a different calling, which was the army. Taking a big risk and passing up on her education, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Corps in 1942. This was considered a risky decision at the time due to the clashing during WWII, and with no end in sight, it had a very cloudy resolution for the participants.
Putting the same effort into the army that she put into school, her hard work paid off and she sped through basic training and into the officer training program. Her ambition paid off, and since a small number of female African American soldiers needing a leader, the army quickly put her in charge. Her small group stood out due to its skills, and it wasn’t long before she attained the rank of Major. Her biggest attributes were keeping morale of the troops high, which showed during one of her many missions in which she successfully created an atmosphere of relaxation throughout the warring chaos.
The skill was in high demand during these times, which led to an appointment commanding the 6888th Central Postal Directory battalion operating in England and France. Even with all of these honors, she was still a black woman, and thus, had to deal with many racism and discrimination issues. She not only found a way to not let it get to her, but Earley passed the same wisdom down to her fellow soldiers, which became a staple in the U.S. recruitment tour.
Even with all of the action she saw as a military officer, after retiring from the forces, she continued her education and raised a healthy family.