Ruth Lucas was the first African-American woman to be promoted to colonel in the U.S Air Force. She joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942 after graduating from Tuskegee Institute with a degree in education and sociology. Soon after, she became one of the first African-American women to attend the Joint Forces Staff College. By the time Colonel Lucas retired in 1970, she was the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Air Force.
With a Masters degree from Columbia University, Colonel Lucas was also an Education Psychologist of the Air Force. Her objective within the Air Force was to raise the education levels of her fellow Air Force comrades. During that time, Lucas appeared in a full spread with Ebony Magazine (1969) where she stated, “among all the servicemen that enter into the military annually, about 45,000 of them read below the fifth-grade level, and more than 30% of these men are black.”