Climbing the ladder of success remains a difficult chore for Black women firefighters
In this photo from February 7, 2019, FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson speaks onstage during The 2019 MAKERS Conference at Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. - Vivien Killilea/Getty Images North America/TNS

There was nothing subtle about the pushback when Toni Washington — a Black woman — landed her first job with the East Point Fire Department in 1995. “It was in my face, a combination of both sex and race,” recalled Washington, now the fire chief for the city of Decatur, Georgia. “There was no hiding how people felt. When we went into the firehouses, the men wouldn’t dare talk to us. How they felt, they were unashamed to show it. It was by any means necessary to push us out.” Twenty-one years into the new millennium, Washington is now in her 12th year atop the department. But it’s lonely at the...