A Black woman from North Virginia has made history for becoming the first African-American woman appointed to lead West Point cadets, the Washington Post reports.
Earlier this week it was announced that 20-year-old Cadet Simone Askew—who hails from Fairfax—will take on the role of the first captain of the Corps of Cadets during the forthcoming school year, the outlet writes. Askew, who is studying international history at West Point, will step into her new role towards the end of August. In her new position, she will serve as a liaison between the corps and West Point’s administration.
The Washington Post reported that she will also develop a class agenda for the West Point cadets. In a statement, Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gilland shared his excitement about having Askew take on the position. “Simone truly exemplifies our values of Duty, Honor, Country,” he said, according to the source. “Her selection is a direct result of her hard work, dedication and commitment to the Corps over the last three years.” Askew’s former high school principal David Goldfarb echoed the general’s sentiments calling her a “collaborative leader.”
According to the Huffington Post, her sister Nina Askew called the appointment a “great step for African-American women.”
Askew is breaking several barriers by taking on the new role. The source reported that women weren’t allowed to enroll in West Point, which was founded 215 years ago, until 1976. Last year, women accounted for only 20 percent of cadets. There are currently 4,000 people enrolled at the military academy.
In 2016, the institution made headlines after a photo of 16 Black women cadets shown raising their firsts sparked controversy.