This Day in Black History: Ruth Carol Taylor becomes first African American flight attendant

First African American Flight Attendant Ruth Carol Taylor

HOUSTON – Ruth Carol Taylor was born on Dec. 27, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Taylor attended Elmira College in Elmira, New York and graduated from the Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City as a registered nurse in 1955.

While working as a nurse, Taylor decided to take a leap of faith and break the color barrier that existed in the career of airline flight attendants.

Taylor applied to Trans World Airline, but was rejected and filed a complaint against the company with the New York State Commission on Discrimination. Taylor then applied for a position with Mohawk Airlines, who expressed interest in hiring minority flight attendants. In 1957, with over 800 African American applicants, Taylor was selected for the flight attendant position with Mohawk Airlines.

On Feb. 11, 1958, Taylor became the first African American flight attendant – on a flight from Ithaca to New York City.

About six months later, after getting married, Taylor was forced to resign from Mohawk Airlines due to the airline’s marriage ban.

In 1963, Taylor was involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1977, Taylor continued to work as a nurse and co-founded The Institute for Interracial Harmony—an institute that raises awareness of racial discrimination.

In 1985, Taylor wrote the book The Little Black Book: Black Male Survival in America, or staying alive & well in an institutionally racist society.

In 2008, Taylor was recognized for her historic accomplishment as the first African American flight attendant by the New York State Assembly.

Taylor’s leap of faith landed her to earn the greatest award — HISTORY!