Democracy Dies in Darkness

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When the first woman entered The Citadel

August 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Aug. 12, 1995 On this day, Shannon Faulkner joined the freshman class at The Citadel, in Charleston, S.C., ending its all-male status after 152 years. “In the wake of death threats, Faulkner, the first woman admitted to the state-supported military school, was accompanied by four U.S. marshals as well as her parents as she pulled up to the walled campus about 7:30 a.m.,” Mike Clary wrote in The Washington Post the next day. Faulkner, then 20, had fought a 2½ -year legal battle to be admitted. The day before she was to start, the school made a last-ditch appeal to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who rejected it. Faulkner immediately fell ill, and after spending multiple days in the infirmary, she resigned. But more female cadets followed in her footsteps. Today, according to the school’s website, 8.6 percent of the student body is female. Faulkner went on to become a high school English teacher. In March, she returned to The Citadel for the first time since she left in 1995. This time, the school invited her.


Annys Shin is an articles editor at The Washington Post Magazine. She joined The Post as reporter in 2004. She has also been a staff writer at the Washington City Paper and the Center for Public Integrity.

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