Cathay Williams - The Ultimate Trailblazer

Cathay Williams was born a slave in Independence, Missouri in 1844.

(Ironic, right?)

 Cathay was "freed" by the Union Forces who then volun-told her she would be a cook and laundress. Not wanting to be a financial burden to her family when the Civil War ended, Cathay laced up her boots and went back to work - posing as a man named William Cathay.

She enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army as William Cathay and was assigned to the newly formed all-black 38th Infantry Regiment (where she passed the medical exam) and became a Buffalo Soldier. After years of service and 4 hospital stays, her gender was revealed and Cathay was discharged. Tragically, her health declined and the US Army denied her medical pension claiming her health was poor before her service (insert eye roll).

While the details of Cathay’s death are unknown, we do know this - she was a woman determined to course her own life, the first black woman to enlist and the only female Buffalo Soldier.

The ultimate trail blazer - Williams honorably joins the ranks of Hobby, Whittle, Naomi, and Otto as R. Riveter’s newest design.

 

 

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