Captain Zeita Merchant Becomes First Black Woman Selected For Flag Rank In U.S. Coast Guard’s 233-Year-History


August 1, 2023

What an accomplishment!

Captain Zeita Merchant has made history as the first Black woman selected for flag rank in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 233-year-history. A veteran service member, Merchant has been a member of the armed services for more than two decades, Coast Guard Atlantic Area reports. A graduate of Tougaloo College, she holds her master’s in public administration from George Washington University and a doctorate from the National Graduate School at New England Institute of Business. 

She is an expert in maritime safety, security, and crisis management, having previously served as one of the Coast Guard’s top emergency managers. She was promoted to Commander in May 2021, overseeing all Coast Guard missions in the Port of New York and New Jersey, one of the nation’s busiest port complexes spanning more than 6,000 square miles and 200 miles offshore to Albany, NY. Now Merchant has been promoted to rear admiral, the first Black woman in Coast Guard history to be selected for that rank or higher. 


Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, a rep for Merchant’s Mississippi hometown, took to social media to congratulate her on the historic accomplishment. 

“It is with great pride that I recognize the accomplishment of Captain Zeita Merchant, a Jackson, Mississippi native and graduate of Tougaloo College for her selection to the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard,” wrote Thompson.






While impressive, Merchant is no stranger to accolades and accomplishments, already holding “three Meritorious Service Medals, six Coast Guard Commendation Medals, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, three Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals, and four Commandant’s Letters of Commendation.” She will continue to lead large-scale maritime efforts in her new role and serve as a shining inspiration for those looking to follow in her footsteps.

Congratulations Captain Merchant!

Cover photo: Captain Zeita Merchant becomes first Black woman selected for flag rank in U.S. Coast Guard’s 233-year-history/Photo Courtesy Bennie G. Thompson/Twitter


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