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Alumnae Stories

Alumna Monica R. Lawson Becomes U.S. Army Colonel

November 2020

Spelman Alumnae Monica Lawson Named Colonel is U.S. Army The U.S. Army promoted Spelman alumna Chaplain Monica R. Lawson, C’92, to the rank of colonel, making her the first active-duty African American woman chaplain to receive such a promotion. 

Col. Lawson was given the new status of colonel in a ceremony that was streamed through the U.S Army Chaplain Center and School’s Facebook page on Sept. 2, 2020. 

"As an African American woman who has always been proud of the skin that I’m in, in this time, this is a bright spot in a sea of what seems to be darkness never-ending," Col. Lawson said during the ceremony. 

Col. Lawson, a native of Five Points, Alabama, is also a graduate of the Interdenominational Theological Center’s Turner Theological Seminary. Her military assignments include serving as a battalion chaplain at Fort Story, Virginia, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina; a family life chaplain at Fort Bliss, Texas; a deputy cadet command chaplain at Fort Knox, Kentucky; a command chaplain at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and a deputy Pentagon chaplain.

During the ceremony, Col. Lawson also discussed why her achievement was is significant for her as well as African Americans serving in the military.

She said, "I know many of you are saying, ‘What does race, race relations, and racism have to do with you being promoted?' Well, just in case you didn’t figure it out, it took us 245 years for this moment to happen.”