- Thirty-two black female cadets will graduate from the United States Military Academy on May 25 – the largest group of black women the school has matriculated in its 217-year history.
- The school, more commonly referred to as West Point, shared photos of the historic group, posing in dress uniform, with INSIDER on Thursday.
- West Point has been making an effort to recruit more multicultural cadets since 2014, when it set up a diversity office.
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A group of black female cadets at the United States Military Academy proudly posed for photos together ahead of their May 25 graduation, to mark being part of the largest class of black women to graduate from the 217-year-old institution.
Thirty-two black women are set to graduate from the school, more commonly known as West Point, in the class of 2019, the Philadelphia Tribune reported. The momentous occasion comes more than 155 years after the end of slavery, and nearly 99 years after women won the right to vote.
West Point was founded in 1802 but didn’t admit its first black cadet until 1870. The first women were admitted in 1976.
Since 2014 though, the school has been making more of an effort to recruit more cadets from different backgrounds, by setting up an office of diversity, according to CNN.
West Point spokesman Frank Demaro told CNN on Wednesday that he expects many more landmarks in the school’s future when it comes to diversity.
“Last year’s graduating class had 27” black women, Demaro said. “And the expectation is next year’s class will be even larger than this year’s.”
Demaro also pointed out that this year’s class includes “the highest number of female Hispanic graduates, along with graduating our 5,000th female cadet.”
According to the school, 10% of the student population is black and about 20% are women.
Cadet Tiffany Welch-Baker is among the group of black women graduating the school this month. She told the website Because of Them We Can that she hopes the photos will inspire young black girls.
“My hope when young black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability and fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” Welch-Baker said.
In other strides, last year the school appointed its first black superintendent, and named the first black female student to serve as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets, the highest student leadership position at the school.
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