Marcelite Jordan Harris: Spelman grad, Air Force trailblazer became mentor to women

Marcelite Harris Jordan at a pinning ceremony to become the first female major general in the U.S. Air Force. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.



Spelman grad became Air Force trailblazer


Throughout March, we'll spotlight notable women with Georgia connections in the daily Living section on Mondays and Tuesdays. Go to to see videos on the women featured here each week.

Marcelite Jordan Harris’ unlikely journey to becoming a historymaker began at Atlanta’s Spelman College more than a half-century ago.

Harris was the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of major general in the U.S. Air Force, the first woman aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two women air officers commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the first woman deputy commander for maintenance.


ABOVE: A caisson delivers the remains of retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris at Arlington National Cemetery in February. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank

Tenecia Harris said she’s encountered several women who said her mother inspired them to strive and succeed in the military.

“Mom just wanted to be herself — an emotional, dramatic, caring, kind, curious, determined shining light. It was in being herself that she was happy with her job, she succeeded at her job and went on to achieve her own history,” her daughter said. “If she could inspire even one person to just be themselves every day, in every way, and to see that is success, that’s what her legacy would be.”

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