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Celebrating Ruth Carol Taylor

Date: February 14, 2023

Celebrating Ruth Carol Taylor

Making history, Ruth Carol Taylor became the first African American Flight Attendant in December 1957, at Mohawk Airlines. Growing up in Boston and then attending high school and college in New York, she graduated from Bellevue School of Nursing in 1955, and then pursued a career in nursing.

In 1957 she applied to Trans World Airlines (TWA) to be a Flight Attendant. She was rejected and filed a complaint against TWA with the NY state Commission of Discrimination, which did not result in any consequences for TWA. It did, however, begin raising awareness at other airlines who evaluated their discrimination polices and began a shift in the industry. Having awareness raised by Taylor through her complaint, more airlines began to consider African American’s.

In February 1958, she broke through the color barrier becoming the first African American Flight Attendant at Mohawk Airlines. She was hired as one, from a pool of 800 applicants, in a very competitive process. While being a nurse may have helped her reach her goals, planning to get married ultimately ended her career prematurely, falling subject to that discriminatory rule. She continued to fight for equality in other ways and co-founded the Institute for Inter-Racial Harmony and went on to publish a book reflecting on her brief time as a Flight Attendant.

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