Black Women in History posted by

Ethel and Marlo McGuire: First Black Mother-Daughter Duo in the FBI

Photo courtesy of FBI

When Marlo McGuire joined the FBI in the early 2000s, her mother Ethel was already a twenty-year veteran with the bureau, holding her current position as assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism in Los Angeles. The McGuire women made history, becoming the nations’s first black mother-daughter duo as special agents in the FBI, and they’re African American to boot.

In a 2006 interview with NPR, Marlo said she didn’t realize the magnitude of her mother’s work until a recruiter from the FBI spoke at her eighth grade career day fair. At the end of the presentation, she spoke with the recruiter and learned that he knew her mother. That conversation changed her perception of the women she knew only as mom and thought it must be cool to be an FBI agent, Marlo knew then that she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Ethel’s entrance into the bureau, however, was not her first career choice. In fact, it wasn’t her first careeer. After several years of working as a teacher for the inner-city Los Angeles school system, and after one too many fights with students, Ethel transitioned into retail. A bad day of work prompted her to go to a government agency and apply for a job. One month later she was contacted by a recruiter, tested, placed on an extensive waiting list–nearly a year and a half–and finally got a call back. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Ethel has since retired from the FBI, and in 2010 she was appointed Assistant Chief of Los Angeles Airport Homeland Security and Intelligence. Marlo is still a special agent with the bureau and lives with her husband and children in the California Bay Area.

To learn more about these fabulous women of Black History and the FBI, click here and here.