In 1919, Georgia Ann Robinson (born Georgia Ann Hill) became one of the first two African American women appointed as police officers in the United States. Born in Louisiana and raised by her sister, then in a convent, she eventually made her way to Kansas where she worked as a governess. There she met Morgan Robinson, who became her husband. The couple later moved to Colorado (where Georgia Robinson was introduced to woman’s suffrage), then to Los Angeles.
Before becoming a Los Angeles police officer, Robinson had been working as a Suffragette and was active with various community organizations, such as the NAACP. In 1916, when the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) faced a staff shortage due to men enlisting to fight in World War I, Robinson was recruited by the department to work as a volunteer. Three years later, in 1919, at age 40, the LAPD appointed her to become a full-time police officer. Just weeks earlier, another African American woman, Cora I. Parchment, had been appointed as a police officer by the New York Police Department. Robinson and Parchment became the first two African American women police officers in the nation. Nine years earlier, Alice Stebbins Wells had become a police officer in the LAPD, the first woman of any color so appointed in the United States.
Officer Robinson first worked as a jail matron and later on juvenile and homicide cases. Whenever possible, she referred young African American women to social agencies (such as the Sojourner Truth Home, a shelter for women and children) rather than jailing them, often bringing them home with her when they had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, in 1928, her career as a police officer ended after suffering a serious head injury while trying to break up a jailhouse fight between two inmates. The injury caused her to lose her eyesight, forcing her into disability retirement. That did not, however, end her commitment to community and civil rights work, as she continued to support the Sojourner Truth Home and work for the end of segregated schools and recreation places.
I have no regrets. I didn't need my eyes any longer. I had seen all there was to see.
--Georgia Robinson, to Ebony Magazine in 1954.