My VIP for this week is Jennifer Carroll – the first black female Republican to be elected to the Florida Legislature and the first woman and first black person to be elected as lieutenant governor of Florida.
Carroll was born in Trinidad, West Indies, and immigrated with her parents to the United States when she was eight years old. Her parents realized that the promising life in America required hard work, and they worked multiple jobs. Her father taught her that she was not entitled to anything from anyone and to stand up and do for herself.
Joining the military at age 19, Carroll started as an enlisted jet mechanic and retired 20 years later as a Navy lieutenant commander, aviation maintenance officer. She had experience in mechanics because her father tinkered with things until they worked. She found mechanics more interesting than desk work or being a nurse, which were the usual jobs given to women.
Carroll was able to break sexual and racial barriers in the military because she was usually the only female or the only black female. She was able to clear the way for other women and blacks. In one of her squadrons, she was the only female officer in the maintenance department as well as the only black officer there. She served as a mentor and a role model for many people.
Carroll was an aide to the admiral and was assigned to be a liaison for the base with elected officers. After retiring from the military in 1999, Carroll continued to break barriers in politics. She won a state House seat where she served for seven and a half years and then moved up to lieutenant governor of Florida.