Ruth Carol Taylor was the first African-American airline flight attendant in America. She made the historic mark back on February 11, 1958.
After working as a nurse, Taylor challenged the discriminatory practices of the airlines industry by applying for a stewardess position at Trans World Airlines (TWA). When she was rejected, Taylor filed a complaint.
When upstart regional carrier Mohawk Airlines said it would hire minorities, she applied and was selected out of 800 applicants. But just six months later, Taylor’s career ended due to another discriminatory barrier: the airline’s marriage ban, a common practice among airlines of the day of dismissing flight attendants who either married or became pregnant.
She later became an active voice for civil and women’s rights and was heavily involved in the 1963 March on Washington.
In a 1997 Jet Magazine interview, Taylor admitted that she had no long-term career aspirations as a flight attendant but merely wanted to break the color barrier.