The U.S. Army promoted the first active-duty Black woman chaplain to the rank of colonel, Richmond Free Press reports.
Chaplain Monica R. Lawson has made is the first active-duty Black female chaplain to ascend to the rank of colonel. Lawson is a Spelman alum, African Methodist Episcopal minister, and chief of recruiting and accessions for the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. She has served as a deputy Pentagon chaplain, battalion chaplain at Fort Story, VA, and Fort Jackson, as family life chaplain at Fort Bliss, Texas, deputy cadet command chaplain at Fort Knox, KY, and command chaplain at Fort Bragg, N.C.
During the promotion ceremony honoring her, Lawson spoke about her new role and why it was significant given the current cultural climate.
“As a [Black] woman who has always been proud of the skin that I’m in, in this time, this is a bright spot in a sea of what seems to be darkness never-ending. In a time when we are faced with political polarization, racial unrest, a pandemic, and economic uncertainty, it’s good to have something to celebrate and to take our minds off of what is going on, if only for a moment,” Lawson said.
Army chief of chaplains Major General Thomas Solhjem presented Col. Lawson with her new eagle insignia, encouraging her to step boldly into her new role.
“You’re being recognized today, not because you are a Black [woman]. But you are being recognized today because you have exhibited to a board of what will soon be your peers and those superior that you have the potential to lead in this United States Army Chaplain Corps.,” Solhjem said.
The Five Points, Alabama native also took time to acknowledge those who came before her, including Geraldine Manning, a Black Army Guard and Reserve chaplain who became a colonel while in the Active Guard Reserve Program, never being promoted during active duty.
“Too many times, when people write history, we tend to leave out the history of those who made it possible for us to achieve our historic moments. I wanted to allow the world to see that you can make history and still embrace the history of other people. Acknowledging other people’s accomplishments, regardless of race, religion, or gender, does not diminish your accomplishments,” Lawson said.
Congratulations, Colonel Lawson!
Photo Courtesy of USACHCS/Richmond Free Press