Olivia Hooker, national treasure, dead at 103

Survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riots, Dr. Olivia Hooker, then 90, gave her personal account of the of the historic race riot at a briefing before members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders on Capitol Hill in 2005. After being silenced for more than half a century, survivors of one of our nation’s worst incidents of racial violence finally got the chance to tell their stories to America’s lawmakers. Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP file

In 1945, Olivia Hooker became the first African-American to join the U.S. Coast Guard. She later earned a doctorate degree in psychology and became a professor at Fordham University.

And she is said to be the last survivor of the infamous burning of “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Okla., although there was some dispute about that fact earlier this year when NPR ran a story about her.

“My father’s store was destroyed,” Hooker told Radio Diaries. “There was nothing left but one big safe. It was so big they couldn’t carry it away, so they had to leave it — in the middle of the rubble.”

The Burning of Black Wall Street in 1921 is considered one of the worst racial atrocities in American history, although it was rarely taught in any history class.

Over two days, 300 African Americans were killed.

She campaigned to allow black women into the military, but then she was frustrated that nobody was joining.

“If I go and I survive, maybe someone else will come,” she said. So she tried to join the Navy but was refused on “a technicality” that was never revealed to her.

She joined the Coast Guard, instead.

When the Coast Guard dedicated a wing of its training center in her honor, she shared her philosophy.

“Love all, trust few, and do right.”

Her death was announced by her nephew on a Facebook page dedicated to her.

Related: Tulsa Race Riot. A report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921