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The Arkansas National Guard Welcomes First Black Woman Colonel

The Arkansas National Guard Welcomes First Black Woman Colonel

Photo credit: Mitchell PE Masilun 

Erica Ingram has been promoted to Colonel in the Arkansas National Guard, making her the first Black woman to be promoted to the title in the 214-year history of the guard. Her promotion was the culmination of a long process, which included obtaining approvals from the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense, the President of the United States, and sign off from the United States Senate.

Ingram began her military journey after accepting an ROTC scholarship out of high school to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She became a second lieutenant on active duty in the Army in 1995. She initially planned to leave the Army after serving her four-year commitment to keep her scholarship, but instead decided to remain on the reserve force and then ultimately joined the Arkansas National Guard in 1999. Prior to being promoted, Colonel Ingram served as deputy chief of staff personnel.

In her promotion speech, Colonel Ingram credited her longevity and military success to her "village," including her late parents, her high school principal who first encouraged her to apply for the ROTC scholarship, and countless family, friends, and fellow guardsmen who kept her encouraged along her journey. She shared, "As long as I can remember, I’ve always been surrounded by a village, if I didn’t succeed in life, I had no one to blame but myself."

Major General Mark Berry deemed Colonel Ingram’s promotion a "historic occasion" for the United States Army and the state of Arkansas. Colonel Tina Lipscomb, the first Hispanic woman colonel for the Arkansas Air National Guard, spoke to the importance of promoting women and persons of color to inspire children to dream big. Many others went on to credit Ingram for her tenacity, perseverance, and consistency of effort to earn all that she has earned over the years. 

Congratulations, Col. Erica Ingram!