Olivia Hooker

file photo/The Journal News via USA Today

Coast Guard Pioneer, Race Riot Survivor Laid To Rest

December 06, 2018 - 2:32 pm
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (WCBS 880/AP) -- The first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard and one of the last survivors of a race riot in Oklahoma has been laid to rest with military honors.
 
A funeral was held Wednesday in White Plains for Olivia Hooker. She was 103 years old when she died on Nov. 21.
 
The Coast Guard says Hooker enlisted in the Coast Guard Women's Reserve in 1945 and rose to the rank of yeoman second class before her discharge in 1946. 

Hooker also survived one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. She was 6 years old in 1921 when the late-spring riot destroyed much of a Tulsa neighborhood that had been known as "Black Wall Street.'' She hid under a table as a torch-carrying mob destroyed her family's home, she told National Public Radio in an interview this year.

The number of deaths from the riot was never confirmed, but estimates vary from about three dozen to 300 or more. The violence began after a black man allegedly assaulted a white woman in an elevator in Tulsa. 

Hooker was a psychologist and a professor of psychology at Fordham University, where she retired at age 87 in 2002.

Hooker was also a member of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, now called the Tulsa Race Massacre Commission, which has sought reparations for those impacted by the violence and their survivors.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report)