List of African-American firsts

List of African-American firsts

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Encyclopedia
African Americans are a demographic
Demographic profile
A demographic or demographic profile is a term used in marketing and broadcasting, to describe a demographic grouping or a market segment...

 minority in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The first achievements by African Americans in various fields historically establish a foothold, providing a precedent for more widespread cultural change. The shorthand phrase for this is "breaking the color barrier".

One commonly cited example is that of Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

, who was the first African American of the modern era to become a Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 player, ending 60 years of segregated leagues. Segregated Negro Leagues had been established for decades, featuring many talented athletes.

18th century

19th century: 1820s • 1830s • 1840s • 1850s • 1860s • 1870s • 1880s • 1890s

20th century: 1900s • 1910s • 1920s • 1930s • 1940s • 1950s • 1960s • 1970s • 1980s • 1990s

21st century: 2000s • 2010s 

See also

References

18th century

  • 1760
First known African-American published author: Jupiter Hammon
Jupiter Hammon
Jupiter Hammon was a Black poet who became the first African-American published writer in America when a poem appeared in print in 1760. He was a slave his entire life, and the date of his death is unknown. He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806...

 (poem "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries", published as a broadside
Broadside (printing)
A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements...

)

  • 1770
First person shot to death during the Boston Massacre
Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre, called the Boston Riot by the British, was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five civilian men. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support...

: Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks was a dockworker of Wampanoag and African descent. He was the first person shot to death by British redcoats during the Boston Massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts...

, called the first martyr of the revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

.

  • 1773
First known African-American woman to publish a book: Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet and first African-American woman whose writings were published. Born in Gambia, Senegal, she was sold into slavery at age seven...

 (Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral)
First separate African American church: Silver Bluff Baptist Church
Silver Bluff Baptist Church
The Silver Bluff Baptist Church in Aiken County, South Carolina, was founded by several enslaved African Americans who organized under elder David George in 1773-1775....

, Aiken County
Aiken County, South Carolina
Aiken County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. In 2000, its population was 142,552; in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that its population had reached 160,099...

, South Carolina

  • 1774
First African-American Baptist congregation: First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church (Petersburg, Virginia)
First Baptist Church was the first Baptist church in Petersburg; one of the first African-American Baptist congregations in the United States, and one of the oldest black churches in the nation. It established one of the first local schools for black children in the nation.Its congregation was...

, Petersburg
Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg is an independent city in Virginia, United States located on the Appomattox River and south of the state capital city of Richmond. The city's population was 32,420 as of 2010, predominantly of African-American ethnicity...

, Virginia

  • 1777
First known African-American church congregation: First Colored Baptist Church, renamed First African Baptist Church, Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

, Georgia. This claim is contested by the First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church (Petersburg, Virginia)
First Baptist Church was the first Baptist church in Petersburg; one of the first African-American Baptist congregations in the United States, and one of the oldest black churches in the nation. It established one of the first local schools for black children in the nation.Its congregation was...

, Petersburg
Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg is an independent city in Virginia, United States located on the Appomattox River and south of the state capital city of Richmond. The city's population was 32,420 as of 2010, predominantly of African-American ethnicity...

, Virginia (1774) and historians of the Silver Bluff Baptist Church
Silver Bluff Baptist Church
The Silver Bluff Baptist Church in Aiken County, South Carolina, was founded by several enslaved African Americans who organized under elder David George in 1773-1775....

 (1773–1775) of Aiken County
Aiken County, South Carolina
Aiken County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. In 2000, its population was 142,552; in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that its population had reached 160,099...

, South Carolina

  • 1778
First African-American U.S. military regiment: the 1st Rhode Island Regiment
1st Rhode Island Regiment
The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was a Continental Army regiment from Rhode Island during the American Revolutionary War . Like most regiments of the Continental Army, the unit went through several incarnations and name changes. It became well-known as the "Black Regiment" because, for a time, it had...


  • 1780s
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, popularly known as "The Father of Chicago", was the first known settler in the area which is now Chicago, Illinois
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

.

  • 1783
First African American to formally practice medicine in the U.S.: James Derham
James Derham
James Derham was the first African-American to formally practice medicine in the United States though he never received an M.D. degree....

, who did not hold an M.D. degree (See also: 1847)

  • 1792
First major African-American Back-to-Africa movement
Back-to-Africa movement
The Back-to-Africa movement, was also known as the Colonization movement, originated in the United States in the 19th century, and encouraged those of African descent to return to the African homelands of their ancestors. This movement would eventually inspire other movements ranging from the...

: 1,200 slaves who escaped to settle in Settler Town
Settler Town, Sierra Leone
Settler Town, Sierra Leone or Settler Tong in Krio is the oldest part of Freetown, Sierra Leone and was the home of African American ex-slaves . Settler Town was established as a walled town in 1792 between Walpole and East streets...

, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...


  • 1793
First African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church, is a predominantly African American Methodist denomination based in the United States. It was founded by the Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the...

 established: Richard Allen founded Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church
Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church
The Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1794 by Richard Allen, an African-American Methodist minister. The church has been located at the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since that time, making it the oldest church property continuously...

, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...


  • 1794
First African Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

 established: Absalom Jones
Absalom Jones
Absalom Jones was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman. After founding a black congregation in 1794, in 1804 he was the first African-American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States...

 founded African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1800s

  • 1804
First African American ordained as an Episcopal
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

 priest in the United States: Absalom Jones
Absalom Jones
Absalom Jones was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman. After founding a black congregation in 1794, in 1804 he was the first African-American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States...

 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • 1807
First African Presbyterian Church opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1810s

  • 1816
First fully independent African-American denomination established: Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church, is a predominantly African American Methodist denomination based in the United States. It was founded by the Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the...

 (AME) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was elected bishop. Several black congregations withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. Through a series of...

 and created their own denomination.

1820s

  • 1821
First African American to hold a patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

: Thomas L. Jennings
Thomas L. Jennings
Thomas L. Jennings was an African American tradesman and abolitionist. He was a free black who operated a dry-cleaning business in New York City, New York and was the first African American to be granted a patent...

, for a dry-cleaning process

  • 1823
First African American to receive a degree from an American college: Alexander Twilight
Alexander Twilight
Alexander Lucius Twilight , born free in Vermont, was the first black person known to have earned a bachelor's degree from an American college or university upon graduating Middlebury College in 1823. An educator, minister and politician, he was licensed as a Congregational preacher, and worked in...

, Middlebury College
Middlebury College
Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Founded in 1800, it is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States. Drawing 2,400 undergraduates from all 50 United States and over 70 countries, Middlebury offers 44 majors in the arts,...

 (See also: 1836)

  • 1827
First African-American owned-and-operated newspaper: Freedom's Journal
Freedom's Journal
Freedom's Journal was the first African American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Published weekly in New York City from 16 March 1827 to 28 March 1829, the journal was edited by John Russwurm and co-editor, Samuel Cornish who contributed only through 14 September 1827...


1830s

  • 1836
First African American elected to public office and to serve in a state legislature: Alexander Twilight
Alexander Twilight
Alexander Lucius Twilight , born free in Vermont, was the first black person known to have earned a bachelor's degree from an American college or university upon graduating Middlebury College in 1823. An educator, minister and politician, he was licensed as a Congregational preacher, and worked in...

, Vermont (See also: 1823)

  • 1837
First African-American doctor: Dr. James McCune Smith
James McCune Smith
James McCune Smith was an American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author. He is the first African-American to earn a medical degree, and the first to run a pharmacy in the United States. Smith wrote forcefully in refutation of the common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine,...

 from the University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Located in Glasgow, the university was founded in 1451 and is presently one of seventeen British higher education institutions ranked amongst the top 100 of the...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 (See also: 1783, 1847)

1840s

  • 1845
First African American licensed to practice law in the United States: Macon Allen
Macon Bolling Allen
Macon Bolling Allen was an African American lawyer and abolitionist. He was the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States and the first Black American Justice of the Peace. Macon Bolling Allen was accepted to the bar in 1844 in Portland, Maine...

 from the Boston bar
Bar association
A bar association is a professional body of lawyers. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both...


  • 1847
First African American to graduate from a U.S. medical school: Dr. David J. Peck
David J. Peck
David Jones Peck was an American physician. He was the first African American to receive a Doctor of Medicine from an American medical school....

 (Rush Medical College
Rush Medical College
Rush Medical College is the medical school of Rush University, a private university in Chicago, Illinois. Rush Medical College was one of the first medical colleges in the state of Illinois and was chartered in 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was chartered, and opened with 22 students on...

) (See also: 1783, 1837)
First independent African-American nation and first African-American president of any nation: Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts was the first and seventh President of Liberia. Born free in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, Roberts emigrated to Liberia in 1829 as a young man. He opened a trading store in Monrovia, and later engaged in politics...

, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...


  • 1849
First African-American college professor: Charles L. Reason, New York Central College

1850s

  • 1851
First African-American member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. He was accepted as and identified as Irish-American. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy's tenure and is named after him...

. (See also 1866, 1874)
  • 1853
First novel written by an African American: Clotel; or, The President's Daughter
Clotel
Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is an 1853 novel by U.S. author and playwright William Wells Brown, an escaped slave from Kentucky who was active on the anti-slavery circuit...

, by William Wells Brown
William Wells Brown
William Wells Brown was a prominent African-American abolitionist lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian. Born into slavery in the Southern United States, Brown escaped to the North in 1834, where he worked for abolitionist causes and was a prolific writer...

.

  • 1854
First African-American Roman Catholic priest: James Augustine Healy
James Augustine Healy
James Augustine Healy was the first African-American Roman Catholic priest and the first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the United States...

. (see 1875 and 1886)
First institute of higher learning created to educate African Americans
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community....

: Ashmun Institute in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, renamed Lincoln University
Lincoln University (Pennsylvania)
Lincoln University is the United States' first degree-granting historically black university. It is located near the town of Oxford in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The university also hosts a Center for Graduate Studies in the City of Philadelphia. Lincoln University provides...

 in 1866.

  • 1856
First African-American college president: Bishop Daniel Payne
Daniel Payne
Daniel Alexander Payne was an American bishop, educator, college administrator and author. He became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a major shaper of it in the 19th century. He was one of the founders of Wilberforce University in Ohio...

, Wilberforce College
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans...


  • 1858
First published play by an African American: The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom by William Wells Brown
William Wells Brown
William Wells Brown was a prominent African-American abolitionist lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian. Born into slavery in the Southern United States, Brown escaped to the North in 1834, where he worked for abolitionist causes and was a prolific writer...

First African-American female college professor: Sarah Jane Woodson Early
Sarah Jane Woodson Early
Sarah Jane Woodson Early, born Sarah Jane Woodson , was an American educator, black nationalist, temperance activist and author. A graduate of Oberlin College, she was hired at Wilberforce College as the first African-American woman college instructor...

, Wilberforce College
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans...


1860s

  • 1861
First North American military unit with African-American officers: 1st Louisiana Native Guard
1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA)
The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was a Confederate Louisiana militia of "free persons of color" formed in 1861 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was disbanded in February 1862; some of the members joined the Union Army's 1st Louisiana Native Guard regiment The 1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA) was a...

 of the Confederate Army

First African-American U.S. federal government civil servant: William Cooper Nell
William Cooper Nell
William Cooper Nell was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, author, and civil servant who worked for school integration in Boston. Writing for The Liberator and The North Star, he helped publicize the anti-slavery cause...


  • 1862
First African-American woman to earn a B.A.: Mary Jane Patterson
Mary Jane Patterson
Mary Jane Patterson was born September 12, 1840, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the first African American woman to receive a B.A degree. She was the oldest of Henry Irving Patterson and Emeline Eliza Patterson's children. There is conflicting data on how many siblings she had, but most...

, Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...


First recognized U.S. Army African American combat unit, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers

  • 1863
First college owned and operated by African Americans: Wilberforce College
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans...

, Ohio (The college was founded earlier, but not owned by the AME Church until 1863)

  • 1865
First African-American field officer in the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

: Martin Delany
Martin Delany
Martin Robinson Delany was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, physician, and writer, arguably the first proponent of American black nationalism. He was one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. He became the first African-American field officer in the United...

First African-American attorney admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court: John Swett Rock
John Rock (Abolitionist)
John Stewart Rock John Stewart Rock John Stewart Rock (October 13, 1825 – December 3, 1866; was an American teacher, doctor, dentist, lawyer and abolitionist who originated the notion of "black is beautiful." Rock was one of the first African American men to earn a medical degree. In...


  • 1866
First African-American to earn a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

: Father Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. He was accepted as and identified as Irish-American. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy's tenure and is named after him...

, S.J. (from University of Louvain, Belgium). (see also 1851, 1874)
First African-American woman enlistee in the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

: Cathay Williams

  • 1868
First elected African-American Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant governor
A lieutenant governor or lieutenant-governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction, but is often the deputy or lieutenant to or ranking under a governor — a "second-in-command"...

: Oscar Dunn
Oscar Dunn
Oscar James Dunn was one of three African Americans who served as a Republican lieutenant governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction....

 (Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

). (See also: 1871, May)
First African-American mayor: Pierre Caliste Landry
Pierre Caliste Landry
Pierre Caliste Landry was an American slave who later was an attorney, politician, and religious leader...

, Donaldsonville, Louisiana
Donaldsonville, Louisiana
Donaldsonville is a city in and the parish seat of Ascension Parish, Louisiana, United States, along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The population was 7,605 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:Acadians began to settle in the area in...


  • 1869
First African-American U.S. diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

: Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett
Ebenezer Bassett
Ebenezer D. Bassett was an African American who was appointed United States Ambassador to Haiti in 1869. He was the first African-American diplomat....

, minister to Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

First African-American woman school principal: Fanny Jackson Coppin
Fanny Jackson Coppin
Fanny Jackson Coppin was an African American educator and missionary. Born an American slave, Fanny Jackson's freedom was purchased by her aunt at age 12. Fanny Jackson spent the rest of her youth working as a servant for author George Henry Calvert, studying at every opportunity...

 (Institute for Colored Youth
Institute for Colored Youth
The Institute for Colored Youth was founded in 1837 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. After moving to Delaware County, Pennsylvania and changing its name to Cheyney University, it continues as the oldest African American school of higher education, although degrees were not granted by...

)

1870s

  • 1870
First African American to vote in an election under the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

, granting voting rights regardless of race: Thomas Mundy Peterson
Thomas Mundy Peterson
Thomas Mundy Peterson of Perth Amboy, New Jersey was the first African-American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution...

First African American to graduate from Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

: Richard Theodore Greener
Richard Theodore Greener
Richard Theodore Greener was the first African-American graduate of Harvard College and dean of the Howard University School of Law....

January: First African American elected to either chamber of the U.S. Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

: Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Hiram Rhodes Revels
Hiram Rhodes Revels
Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the United States Senate. Because he preceded any African American in the House, he was the first African American in the U.S. Congress as well. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction...

 (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

-Miss.
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

)
May: First African-American acting governor: Oscar James Dunn of Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 from May till August 9, 1871, when sitting Governor Warmoth was incapacitated and chose to recuperate in Mississippi. (See also: Douglas Wilder, 1990)
December: First African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

: Joseph Rainey
Joseph Rainey
Joseph Hayne Rainey was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives, the second black person to serve in the United States Congress Joseph Hayne Rainey (June 21, 1832 – August 1, 1887) was the first African American to serve in the United States House of...

 (R-S.C.
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

)

  • 1872
First African-American governor (non-elected): P. B. S. Pinchback
P. B. S. Pinchback
Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was the first non-white and first person of African American descent to become governor of a U.S. state...

 of Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 (See also: Douglas Wilder, 1990)
First African-American nominee for Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

: Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing...

 by the Equal Rights Party
Equal Rights Party (United States)
The Equal Rights Party was the name for several different nineteenth century political parties in the United States.The first party was the Locofocos, during the 1830s and 1840s....

.

  • 1874
First African-American president of a major college/university: Father Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy
Patrick Francis Healy was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. He was accepted as and identified as Irish-American. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy's tenure and is named after him...

, S.J. of Georgetown College. (See also: 1851, 1866)

  • 1875
First African-American Roman Catholic bishop: Bishop James Augustine Healy
James Augustine Healy
James Augustine Healy was the first African-American Roman Catholic priest and the first African-American Roman Catholic bishop in the United States...

, of Portland, Maine. (See also: 1854)

  • 1876
First African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university: Edward Alexander Bouchet
Edward Bouchet
Edward Bouchet was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from an American university and the first African-American to graduate from Yale University in 1874. He completed his dissertation in Yale's Ph.D. program in 1876 becoming the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. . His area of...

 (Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

; also first African American to graduate from Yale, 1874) (See also: 1866)

  • 1877
First African-American graduate of West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 and first African-American commissioned officer in the U.S. military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

: Henry Ossian Flipper
Henry Ossian Flipper
Henry Ossian Flipper was an American soldier and though born into slavery in the American South, was the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877 at the age of 21 and earn a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army.Following Flipper's...

.

  • 1879
First African American to graduate from a formal nursing school: Mary Eliza Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879....

, Boston, Massachusetts

1880s

  • 1880
First African American to command a U.S. ship: Captain Michael Healy.
  • 1881
First African American whose signature appeared on U.S. paper currency: Blanche K. Bruce
Blanche Bruce
Blanche Kelso Bruce was a U.S. politician who represented Mississippi as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1875 to 1881 and was the first elected African-American senator to serve a full term. Hiram R. Revels, also of Mississippi, was the first to ever serve in the U.S...

, Registrar of the Treasury
Register of the Treasury
The Register of the Treasury was an office of the United States Treasury Department. In 1919, the Register became the Public Debt Service which, in 1940, became the Bureau of the Public Debt....

.

  • 1883
First known African-American woman to graduate from one of the Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters (colleges)
The Seven Sisters are seven liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern United States that are historically women's colleges. They are Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. All were founded between 1837 and...

 college: Hortense Parker
Hortense Parker
Hortense Parker Gilliam, born Hortense Parker , was the first known African-American graduate of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, in 1883. She taught music and piano at elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri from 1906-1913. That year she married James Marcus Gilliam, and moved with him to St...

 (Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is a liberal arts college for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts. It was the first member of the Seven Sisters colleges, and served as a model for some of the others...

)

  • 1884
First African American to play professional baseball
Professional baseball
Baseball is a team sport which is played by several professional leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system....

 at the major-league level: Moses Fleetwood Walker
Moses Fleetwood Walker
Moses Fleetwood Walker [″Fleet″] was an American Major League Baseball player and author who is credited with being the first African American to play professional baseball.-Baseball career:...

. (See also: Jackie Robinson, 1947)

  • 1885
First African-American woman to hold a patent: Sarah E. Goode
Sarah E. Goode
Sarah E. Goode was an entrepreneur and inventor. She was the first African American woman to receive a United States patent.Goode was born in 1850 into slavery. She was freed after the American Civil War and proceeded to open a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois...

, for the cabinet bed, Chicago, Illinois

  • 1886
First African-American Roman Catholic priest publicly known at the time to be African-American: Augustine Tolton
Augustine Tolton
Augustine John Tolton , or Augustus Tolton, was the first Roman Catholic priest in the United States publicly known to be black when he was ordained in 1886. A former slave who was baptized and reared Catholic, Tolton studied formally in Rome...

, Quincy and Chicago, Illinois (See also: 1854)

1890s

  • 1891
First African-American police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...

 in present-day New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

: Wiley Overton, hired by the Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 Police Department prior to 1898 incorporation of the five boroughs into the City of New York. (See also: Samuel J. Battle
Samuel J. Battle
Samuel Jesse Battle was the first black police officer in the city of Brooklyn, later New York City...

, 1911)

  • 1892
First African American to sing at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

: Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones
Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones
Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones, known as Sissieretta Jones, was an African-American soprano. She sometimes was called "The Black Patti" in reference to Italian opera singer Adelina Patti...

First African American named to a College Football All-America Team
College Football All-America Team
The College Football All-America Team is an honor given annually to the best American college football players at their respective positions. The original usage of the term All-America seems to have been to the 1889 College Football All-America Team selected by Casper Whitney and published in This...

: William H. Lewis
William H. Lewis
William Henry Lewis was an African-American pioneer in athletics, politics and law. He was the first African-American college football player, the first in the sport to be selected as an All-American, the first to be appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney, the first to become a member...

, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...


  • 1895
First African American to earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

: W.E.B. Du Bois
First African-American woman to work for the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

: Mary Fields
Mary Fields
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States, driving her mail route by stagecoach from Cascade, Montana to St. Peter's Mission, Montana...


  • 1896
First African American appointed to serve as U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Paymaster: Richard R. Wright
Richard R. Wright
Richard Robert Wright, Sr. was an American military officer, educator and college president, politician, civil rights advocate and banking entrepreneur. Among his many accomplishments, he founded a high school, a college and a bank...


1900s

  • 1901
First African American invited to dine at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

: Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...


  • 1902
First African-American professional basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 player: Harry Lew
Harry Lew
Harry Haskell Lew African American, was the first to integrate professional basketball in 1902.-Family History:Harry "Bucky" Lew was born in Dracut, Massachusetts the son of William and Isabell Lew. A member of an African-American family with a long history in Massachusetts...

 (New England Professional Basketball League) (See also: 1950)

  • 1903
First Broadway musical written by African Americans, and the first to star African Americans: In Dahomey
In Dahomey
In Dahomey was a landmark American musical comedy, in that it was "the first full-length musical written and played by blacks to be performed at a major Broadway house." It featured music by Will Marion Cook, book by Jesse A. Shipp, and lyrics by Paul Laurence Dunbar...

First African-American woman to found and become president of a bank: Maggie L. Walker
Maggie L. Walker
Maggie Lena Walker was an African American teacher and businesswoman. Walker was the first African American female bank president and the first woman to charter a bank in the United States. As a leader, she achieved successes with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for...

, St. Luke Penny Savings Bank (since 1930 the Consolidated Bank & Trust Company), Richmond, Virginia

  • 1904
First Greek-letter fraternal organization established by African Americans: Sigma Pi Phi
Sigma Pi Phi
Sigma Pi Phi is the first African-American Greek-lettered organization. Sigma Pi Phi was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1904. The fraternity quickly established chapters in Chicago, IL and then Baltimore, MD....

First African American to participate in the Olympic Games, and first to win a medal: George Poage
George Poage
George Coleman Poage was the first African American athlete to win a medal in the Olympic Games, winning two bronze medals at the 1904 games in St...

 (two bronze medals)

  • 1906
First intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established by African Americans: Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Inter-Collegiate Black Greek Letter fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the "Seven Jewels". Alpha Phi Alpha developed a model that was used by the many Black Greek Letter Organizations ...

 (ΑΦΑ), at Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...


  • 1907
First African-American Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 priest and missionary in America: Very Rev. Fr. Raphael Morgan
Raphael Morgan
Very Rev. Raphael Morgan was a Jamaican-American priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, designated as "Priest-Apostolic" to America and the West Indies, later the founder and superior of the Order of the Cross of Golgotha, and thought to be the first Black Orthodox clergyman in America.He spoke...

 (Robert Josias Morgan)

  • 1908
First African-American heavyweight
Heavyweight
Heavyweight is a division, or weight class, in boxing. Fighters who weigh over 200 pounds are considered heavyweights by the major professional boxing organizations: the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, and the World Boxing...

 boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 champion: Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson (boxer)
John Arthur Johnson , nicknamed the “Galveston Giant,” was an American boxer. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion...

First African-American Olympic gold medal winner: John Taylor
John Taylor (athlete)
John Baxter Taylor Jr. was an American track and field athlete, notable as the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal...

 (Track and field
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 medley relay team). (See also: DeHart Hubbard, 1924)
First intercollegiate Greek-letter sorority established by African Americans: Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha is the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African American college women. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., by a group of nine students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle...

 (ΑKΑ)

  • 1909
First African-American scholar to address the American Historical Association
American Historical Association
The American Historical Association is the oldest and largest society of historians and professors of history in the United States. Founded in 1884, the association promotes historical studies, the teaching of history, and the preservation of and access to historical materials...

: W.E.B. Du Bois

1910s

  • 1910
First African-American millionaire: Madam C. J. Walker

  • 1911
First intercollegiate Greek-letter society established by African Americans at a historically black college: Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi is a fraternity and is the first African-American national fraternal organization to be founded at a historically black college. Omega Psi Phi was founded on November 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D.C.. The founders were three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos...

 (ΩΨΦ), at Howard University
Howard University
Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...

First African-American police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

: Samuel J. Battle
Samuel J. Battle
Samuel Jesse Battle was the first black police officer in the city of Brooklyn, later New York City...

, following the 1898 incorporation of the five boroughs into the City of New York, and the hiring of three African-American officers in the Brooklyn Police Department. Battle was also the NYPD
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

's first African-American sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 (1926), lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 (1935), and parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission or to an individual who has been given a commission ....

 (1941). (See also: Wiley Overton, 1891)

  • 1915
First African-American alderman of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

: Oscar Stanton De Priest
Oscar Stanton De Priest
Oscar Stanton De Priest was an American lawmaker and civil rights advocate who served as a U.S. Representative from Illinois from 1929 to 1935. He was the first African American to be elected to Congress in the 20th century....


  • 1916
First African-American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 player to play in a Rose Bowl
1916 Rose Bowl
Originally titled the "Tournament of Roses football game," the second of what is now known as the Rose Bowl Game was played on January 1, 1916...

 game: Fritz Pollard
Fritz Pollard
Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard was the first African American head coach in the National Football League . Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920...

, Brown University
Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...

First African-American serviceman to become a colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

: Charles Young
First African-American woman to be a police officer in Los Angeles, seven years after the LAPD
Los Angeles Police Department
The Los Angeles Police Department is the police department of the city of Los Angeles, California. With just under 10,000 officers and more than 3,000 civilian staff, covering an area of with a population of more than 4.1 million people, it is the third largest local law enforcement agency in...

 hired the first woman officer in the country: Georgia Robinson

  • 1917
First African-American police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...

 killed in the line of duty: NYPD
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

 officer Robert H. Holmes
Robert H. Holmes
Robert H. Holmes was the first NYPD African-American officer to die in the line of duty. Robert Holmes was appointed to police officer on August 25, 1913. He was assigned to the 38th precinct in Harlem, New York. In 1917, Officer Holmes was shot to death while chasing a burglar.-Source:* at...

First African-American woman to win a major sports title: Lucy Diggs Slowe
Lucy Diggs Slowe
Lucy Diggs Slowe was one of the original sixteen founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the first sorority founded by African-American women. She was one of the nine original founders of the sorority in 1908 at Howard University. Her legacy of Alpha Kappa Alpha has continued to...

, American Tennis Association
American Tennis Association
----The American Tennis Association is based in Largo, Maryland, and is the oldest African-American sports organization in the United States. The core of the ATA's modern mission continues to be promoting tennis as a sport for black people and developing junior tennis players, but the ATA...


1920s

  • 1920
First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 football players
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

: Fritz Pollard
Fritz Pollard
Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard was the first African American head coach in the National Football League . Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920...

 (Akron Pros
Akron Pros
The Akron Pros were a professional football team located played in Akron, Ohio from 1908–1926. The team originated in 1908 as a semi-pro team named the Akron Indians, however name was changed to the Pros in 1920 as the team set out to become a charter member of the American Professional...

) and Bobby Marshall
Bobby Marshall
Robert Wells "Bobby" Marshall was an American sports player. He was best known for playing football, however he also competed in baseball, track, boxing and ice hockey....

 (Rock Island Independents
Rock Island Independents
The Rock Island Independents were a professional American football team based in Rock Island, Illinois. One of the first professional football teams, they were founded in 1907 as an independent club. They later played in what is now the National Football League from 1920 to 1925. They joined the...

)
First African-American bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. Through a series of...

: Robert Elijah Jones
Robert Elijah Jones
Robert Elijah Jones was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church and The Methodist Church in the U.S., elected in 1920. Along with Matthew Wesley Clair, Jones was one of the first African-American Bishops of the M.E. Church....

 and Matthew Wesley Clair
Matthew Wesley Clair
Matthew Wesley Clair was one of the first African-American bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church.-Biography:Matthew W. Clair was born in 1865 in Union, West Virginia. He was a son of Anthony and Ollie Clair, former slaves....

.

  • 1921
First African-American woman to become a pilot
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

, first American to hold an international pilot license: Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman
Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was an American civil aviator. She was the first female pilot of African American descent and the first person of African American descent to hold an international pilot license.-Early life:...

First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 coach
Coach (sport)
In sports, a coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople.-Staff:...

: Fritz Pollard
Fritz Pollard
Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard was the first African American head coach in the National Football League . Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920...

, co-head coach, Akron Pros, while continuing to play running back
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

First African-American woman to earn a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in the U.S.: Sadie Tanner Mossell
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, born Sarah Tanner Mossell , was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D...

, Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...


  • 1924
First African American to win individual Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 gold medal: DeHart Hubbard (Long jump
Long jump
The long jump is a track and field event in which athletes combine speed, strength, and agility in an attempt to leap as far as possible from a take off point...

, 1924 Summer Olympics
1924 Summer Olympics
The 1924 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VIII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1924 in Paris, France...

). (See also: John Taylor, 1908)

  • 1925
First African-American Foreign Service Officer
Foreign Service Officer
A Foreign Service Officer is a commissioned member of the United States Foreign Service. As diplomats, Foreign Service Officers formulate and implement the foreign policy of the United States. FSOs spend most of their careers overseas as members of U.S. embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic...

: Clifton R. Wharton, Sr.
Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr.
Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr. was an American diplomat, and the first African American diplomat to become an ambassador by rising through the ranks of the Foreign Service rather than by political appointment such as Frederick Douglass...


  • 1926
First African-American woman to receive a degree (Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

) from Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

: Otelia Cromwell
Otelia Cromwell
Otelia Cromwell is the first African-American graduate of Smith College. The college later began the tradition of canceling afternoon and evening classes in her honor every November as a venue to talk about race and diversity....

, who had previously been the first African-American graduate of Smith College
Smith College
Smith College is a private, independent women's liberal arts college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest member of the Seven Sisters...

.

  • 1927
First African American to star in an international motion picture: Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess"....

 in La Sirène des tropiques.

  • 1928
First post-Reconstruction African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

: Oscar Stanton De Priest
Oscar Stanton De Priest
Oscar Stanton De Priest was an American lawmaker and civil rights advocate who served as a U.S. Representative from Illinois from 1929 to 1935. He was the first African American to be elected to Congress in the 20th century....

 (Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

; Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

)

  • 1929
First African-American sportscaster
Sports commentator
In sports broadcasting, a commentator gives a running commentary of a game or event in real time, usually during a live broadcast. The comments are normally a voiceover, with the sounds of the action and spectators also heard in the background. In the case of television commentary, the commentator...

: Sherman "Jocko" Maxwell
Sherman Maxwell
Sherman Leander Maxwell was an American sportscaster and chronicler of the Negro league baseball league. Many believe that Maxwell was the first African American sports broadcaster in history. He was known by the nickname of Jocko...

 (WNJR
WNJR (AM)
WNJR was a commercial radio station based in Newark, New Jersey, on 91 Halsey St. in Newark, NJ. The station broadcast on 1430 kHz with a transmitter power output of 5000 watts.-History:...

, Newark, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

)

1930s

  • 1931
First African-American composer to have symphony performed by leading orchestra: William Grant Still
William Grant Still
William Grant Still was an African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major...

, Symphony No. 1, by Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

  • 1932
First African American on a presidential ticket in the 20th century: James W. Ford
James W. Ford
James W. "Jim" Ford was the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Communist Party USA in 1932, 1936, and 1940. A party organizer from New York City, Ford was the first African-American to appear on a presidential ticket in the 20th century....

 (Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, as vice-presidential candidate running with William Z. Foster
William Z. Foster
William Foster was a radical American labor organizer and Marxist politician, whose career included a lengthy stint as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA...

)

  • 1934
First African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

: Arthur W. Mitchell
Arthur W. Mitchell
Arthur Wergs Mitchell was a U.S. Representative from Illinois. Mitchell was the first African American to be elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat....

 (Illinois)
First trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 set up for African-American domestic worker
Domestic worker
A domestic worker is a man, woman or child who works within the employer's household. Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to cleaning and household maintenance, known as housekeeping...

s by Dora Lee Jones
Dora Lee Jones
Dora Lee Jones was a domestic worker in early 20th century New York. She was a plump, energetic, round faced African American woman with large eyes. She helped to found a Domestic Workers' Union in Harlem in 1934...


  • 1935
First known interracial jazz group: Benny Goodman Trio
Benny Goodman
Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the "King of Swing".In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America...

 (Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson
Teddy Wilson
Theodore Shaw "Teddy" Wilson was an American jazz pianist whose sophisticated and elegant style was featured on the records of many of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.-Biography:Wilson was born in Austin, Texas in...

, Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa was an American jazz and big band drummer and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.-Biography:...

)

  • 1936
First African American to conduct a major U.S. orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

: William Grant Still
William Grant Still
William Grant Still was an African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major...

 (Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic
The Los Angeles Philharmonic is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California, United States. It has a regular season of concerts from October through June at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and a summer season at the Hollywood Bowl from July through September...

)

  • 1937
First African-American federal magistrate: William H. Hastie
William H. Hastie
William Henry Hastie, Jr. was an American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans...

 (later the first African-American governor of the United States Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands of the United States are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.The U.S...

)

  • 1938
First African-American female federal agency head: Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University and for being an advisor to President Franklin D...

 (National Youth Administration
National Youth Administration
The National Youth Administration was a New Deal agency in the United States that focused on providing work and education for Americans between the ages of 16 and 24. It operated from 1935 to 1939 as part of the Works Progress Administration . Following the passage of the Reorganization Act of...

)

1940s

  • 1940
First African American to win an Academy Award: Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind ....

 (Best Supporting Actress
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

, Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (film)
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...

, 1939)
First African American to be portrayed on a U.S. postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

: Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...

First African-American U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 brigadier general
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. was an American general and the father of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Army....


  • 1941
First African American to give a White House Command Performance: Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....


  • 1942
First African American to be awarded the Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

: Doris Miller
Doris Miller
Doris "Dorie" Miller was a cook in the United States Navy noted for his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the U.S...

First African-American member of the U.S. Marine Corps: Alfred Masters
Alfred Masters
Alfred Masters was an American member of the United States Marine Corps. Masters became the first African American in the United States Marines at his swearing-in on June 1, 1942....


  • 1943
First African-American artists to have a #1 hit on the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 charts: Mills Brothers
Mills Brothers
The Mills Brothers, sometimes billed as The Four Mills Brothers, were an American jazz and pop vocal quartet of the 20th century who made more than 2,000 recordings that combined sold more than 50 million copies, and garnered at least three dozen gold records...

 ("Paper Doll
Paper Doll (song)
"Paper Doll" was a hit song for the Mills Brothers. In the United States it held the number-one position on the Billboard singles chart for twelve weeks, from November 6, 1943, to January 22, 1944. The success of the song represented something of a revival for the group, after a few years of...

"), topped "Best Sellers in Stores" chart on November 6 (See also: Tommy Edwards, 1958; The Platters, 1959)

  • 1944
First African-American commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

: The "Golden Thirteen
Golden Thirteen
The Golden Thirteen were the thirteen African American enlisted men who became the first African American commissioned and warrant officers in the United States Navy.-History:...

"
First African American commissioned as a U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 officer from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program is a college-based, commissioned officer training program of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.-Origins:...

: Samuel Gravely. Gravely was also the first African American to command a U.S. Navy warship (1962), and the first promoted to the rank of admiral (1971).
First African American to co-pastor with a white minister at the first interracial church: Dr. Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman was an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 21 books, and in 1944 helped found a multicultural church.-Early life...

 with Dr. Alfred Fisk, Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples
Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples
The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples is an intercultural, interracial, interfaith and interdenominational organization dedicated to "personal empowerment and social transformation through an ever deepening relationship with the Spirit of God in All Life."-The Church today:The current...

, San Francisco
First African American to receive a contract with a major American opera company: Camilla Williams
Camilla Williams
Camilla Ella Williams is an American operatic soprano and the first African American to receive a contract with a major American opera company.-Biography:...


  • 1945
First African-American member of the New York City Opera
New York City Opera
The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...

: Todd Duncan
Todd Duncan
Robert Todd Duncan was an American baritone opera singer and actor.-Biography:Todd Duncan was born in Danville, Kentucky in 1903. He obtained his musical training at Butler University in Indianapolis with a B.A. in music followed by an M.A...

First African-American U.S. Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 officer: Frederick C. Branch
Frederick C. Branch
Frederick Clinton Branch was the first African-American officer of the United States Marine Corps.-Marine Corps career:...


  • 1947
First African-American Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 player of the modern era: Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

 (Brooklyn Dodgers). (See also: Moses Fleetwood Walker, 1884)
First African-American consensus college All-American basketball player: Don Barksdale
Don Barksdale
Donald Angelo "Don" Barksdale was a professional basketball player. He was a pioneer with a number of African-American firsts to his credit.-Early life:...

First African-American artist to receive sole credit for a #1 hit on the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 charts: Count Basie
Count Basie
William "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years...

 ("Open the Door, Richard
Open the Door, Richard
"Open the Door, Richard" is a song first recorded on the Black & White Records label by saxophonistist Jack McVea at the suggestion of A&R man Ralph Bass. In 1947, it was the number-one song on Billboards "Honor Roll of Hits" and became a runaway pop sensation.-Origin:"Open the Door, Richard"...

"), topped "Best Sellers in Stores" chart on February 22 (See also: Mills Brothers, 1943; Nat King Cole, 1950; Tommy Edwards, 1958; The Platters, 1959)
First African-American full-time faculty member at a predominantly white law school: William Robert Ming
William Robert Ming
William Robert Ming, Jr. was an American lawyer, attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and law professor at University of Chicago Law School and Howard University School of Law. He is best remembered for being a member of the Brown v...

 (University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School was founded in 1902 as the graduate school of law at the University of Chicago and is among the most prestigious and selective law schools in the world. The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it fifth among U.S...

)

  • 1948
First African-American man to receive an Academy Award: James Baskett
James Baskett
James Baskett was an American actor known for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, singing the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in the 1946 Disney feature film Song of the South, for which he was given an Honorary Academy Award, making him the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar.- Career...

 (Honorary Academy Award for his portrayal of "Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus is a fictional character, the title character and fictional narrator of a collection of African American folktales adapted and compiled by Joel Chandler Harris, published in book form in 1881...

" in Song of the South
Song of the South
Song of the South is a 1946 American musical film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film is based on the Uncle Remus cycle of stories by Joel Chandler Harris. The live actors provide a sentimental frame story, in which Uncle Remus relates the folk tales of the...

, 1946) (See also: Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

, 1964)
First African-American U.S. Navy aviator: Jesse L. Brown
Jesse L. Brown
Jesse LeRoy Brown was the first African American naval aviator in the United States Navy, and the first naval officer killed in the Korean War....

First African-American composer to have an opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 performed by a major U.S. company: William Grant Still (Troubled Island, New York City Opera
New York City Opera
The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...

)
First African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal: Alice Coachman
Alice Coachman
Alice Marie Coachman is an American former athlete. She specialized in high jump, and was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal...

First African American on an Olympic basketball team and first African-American Olympic gold medal basketball winner: Don Barksdale, in the 1948 Summer Olympics
1948 Summer Olympics
The 1948 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in London, England, United Kingdom. After a 12-year hiatus because of World War II, these were the first Summer Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin...

First African American to design and construct a professional golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

: Bill Powell
First African American since Reconstruction to enroll at a traditionally white university of the South: Silas Hunt (University of Arkansas Law School)

  • 1949
First African-American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland, United States...

: Wesley Brown
Wesley A. Brown
Wesley Anthony Brown was the first African American graduate of the U.S Naval Academy , in Annapolis, Maryland. He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and served in the U.S Navy from May 2, 1944–June 30, 1969.-Early life:He graduated from Dunbar High School, where he was Cadet Corps...

First African American to hold rank of Ambassador of the United States: Edward R. Dudley
Edward R. Dudley
Edward Richard Dudley was the first African-American to hold the rank of Ambassador of the United States, serving as Ambassador to Liberia from 1949 to 1953....

, ambassador, and previously minister, to Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 (See also: 1869)
First African American to have opera performed by major company: William Grant Still
William Grant Still
William Grant Still was an African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major...

, Troubled Island, New York City Opera
New York City Opera
The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...

First African American to win an MVP award in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

: Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

 (Brooklyn Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

, National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

) (See also: Elston Howard, 1963)

1950s

  • 1950
First African American to win Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

: Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.-Biography:...

 (Book of poetry, Annie Allen, 1949)
First African American to win Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

: Ralph Bunche
Ralph Bunche
Ralph Johnson Bunche or 1904December 9, 1971) was an American political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first person of color to be so honored in the history of the Prize...

First individual African American as subject on the cover of Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

magazine: Jackie Robinson, May 8, 1950
First African-American NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 basketball players: Earl Lloyd
Earl Lloyd
Earl Francis Lloyd is a retired American basketball player. He was the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, in the 1950-51 NBA season...

 (Washington Capitols
Washington Capitols
The Washington Capitols were a charter Basketball Association of America team based in Washington, D.C. The team was coached from 1946 to 1949 by NBA Hall of Famer Red Auerbach....

), Chuck Cooper (Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are a National Basketball Association team based in Boston, Massachusetts. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Founded in 1946, the team is currently owned by Boston Basketball Partners LLC. The Celtics play their home games at the TD Garden, which...

), and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton (New York Knicks
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association...

) (See also: 1902)
First African-American star of a network television sitcom: Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters was an American blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.Her best-known recordings includes, "Dinah", "Birmingham Bertha",...

, Beulah
Beulah (series)
The Beulah Show is an American situation-comedy series that ran on CBS radio from 1945 to 1954, and on ABC television from 1950 to 1952. The show is notable for being the first sitcom to star an African American actress.-Radio:...

First African-American woman to compete on the world tennis tour: Althea Gibson
Althea Gibson
Althea Gibson was a World No. 1 American sportswoman who became the first African-American woman to be a competitor on the world tennis tour and the first to win a Grand Slam title in 1956. She is sometimes referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of tennis" for breaking the color barrier...

First African-American solo singer to have a #1 hit on the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 charts: Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole
Nathaniel Adams Coles , known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres...

 ("Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole song)
"Mona Lisa" is a song written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston for the Paramount Pictures film Captain Carey, U.S.A. . It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for 1950. The arrangement was by Nelson Riddle and the orchestral backing was played by Les Baxter and his Orchestra...

"), topped "Best Sellers in Stores" chart on July 15 (See also: Mills Brothers, 1943; Count Basie, 1947; Tommy Edwards, 1958; The Platters, 1959)
First African American nominated for a Golden Globe Award: Juano Hernández
Juano Hernández
Juano Hernández was a Puerto Rican stage and film actor of African descent who was a pioneer in the African-American film industry. He made his debut in an Oscar Micheaux film, "The Girl from Chicago" which was directed at black audiences. Hernández also performed in a serious of dramatic roles in...

 (Most Promising Newcomer – Male, Intruder in the Dust)

  • 1951
First African American named to the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

: Duke Slater
Duke Slater
Frederick Wayman "Duke" Slater was an American football player and one of the great black players of his era. Slater played for the University of Iowa in college and played professionally for ten years...

, University of Iowa
Iowa Hawkeyes football
The Iowa Hawkeyes football team is the interscholastic football team at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. The Hawkeyes have competed in the Big Ten Conference since 1900, and are currently a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

 (1918–1921)

  • 1952
First African-American woman elected to a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 state senate: Cora Brown
Cora Brown
Cora Mea Brown , was the first African-American woman elected to a United States state senate, winning a seat in the Michigan State Senate in 1952.-Early life:...

, Democrat (Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

)
First African-American U.S. Marine Corps aviator: Frank E. Petersen
Frank E. Petersen
Frank E. Petersen Jr. is a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General. He was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general....

First African-American woman to be nominated for a national political office: Charlotta Bass
Charlotta Bass
Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass was an American educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist. Bass was probably the first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States; she published the California Eagle from 1912 until 1951...

, Vice President (Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1948)
The United States Progressive Party of 1948 was a left-wing political party that ran former Vice President Henry A. Wallace of Iowa for president and U.S. Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho for vice president in 1948.-Foundation:...

) (See also: 2000)

  • 1953
First African-American basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 player to play in the NBA All-Star Game
National Basketball Association All-Star Game
The National Basketball Association staged its first All-Star Game in the Boston Garden on March 2, 1951. From that year on, the game has matched the best players in the Eastern Conference with the best players in the Western Conference....

: Don Barksdale in the 1953 NBA All-Star Game
1953 NBA All-Star Game
-Box score:-External links:**...

First African American named as Dean of chapel at a majority white university: Howard Thurman at Marsh Chapel, Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

First African-American woman to be made a member of ASCAP: Jessie Mae Robinson
Jessie Mae Robinson
Jessie Mae Robinson was a songwriter who wrote popular songs for many blues and R & B singers. Among her best-known songs are "I Went to Your Wedding", "Keep it a secret", "The Other Woman" and "Let's Have a Party"....

First African-American quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 to play in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 during the modern (post-World War II) era: Willie Thrower
Willie Thrower
Willie Lawrence Thrower was a American football quarterback. Born near Pittsburgh in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Thrower was known as "Mitts" for his large hands and arm strength compared to his 5'11 frame. He was known to toss a football 60 yards...

 (Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

)

  • 1954
First African-American U.S. Navy Diver: Carl Brashear
Carl Brashear
Carl Maxie Brashear was the first African American to become a U.S. Navy Master Diver in 1970.-Early life:...

First African-American woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

: Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Jean Dandridge was an American actress and popular singer, and was the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress...

 (Carmen Jones
Carmen Jones (film)
Carmen Jones is a 1954 American musical film produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Harry Kleiner is based on the libretto for the 1943 stage production of the same name by Oscar Hammerstein II, which was inspired by an adaptation of the 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella Carmen by...

, 1954). (At that time, nominations were announced in November of the year of release, instead of early the following year.)
First individual African-American woman as subject on the cover of Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

magazine: Dorothy Dandridge, November 1, 1954
First African-American page for the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, and first to be enrolled in the Capitol Page School: Charles V. Bush
Charles V. Bush
Charles V. Bush is an African-American pioneer, retired senior corporate executive and former U.S. Air Force officer. In 1954, Bush was selected by Chief Justice Earl Warren for appointment as the first African-American page of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also one of the first...


  • 1955
First African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

: Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century...

First African-American male dancer in a major ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 company: Arthur Mitchell
Arthur Mitchell (dancer)
Arthur Mitchell is an African-American dancer and choreographer who created a training school and the first African-American classical ballet company, Dance Theatre of Harlem...

 (New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

; also first African-American principal dancer of a major ballet company (NYCB), 1956. (See also: 1969)
First African-American singer to appear in a telecast opera: Leontyne Price
Leontyne Price
Mary Violet Leontyne Price is an American soprano. Born and raised in the Deep South, she rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera.One critic characterized Price's voice as "vibrant",...

 in NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's production of Tosca
Tosca
Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900...


  • 1956
First African-American U.S. Secret Service agent: Charles Gittens
Charles Gittens
Charles LeRoy Gittens was an American United States Secret Service agent. Gittens joined the Secret Service in 1956, becoming the agency's first African American agent....

First African-American male star of a network television show: Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole
Nathaniel Adams Coles , known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres...

, The Nat King Cole Show
First African American to break the color barrier in a bowl game
Bowl game
In North America, a bowl game is commonly considered to refer to one of a number of post-season college football games. Prior to 2002, bowl game statistics were not included in players' career totals and the games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating...

 in the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

: Bobby Grier, (Pittsburgh Panthers in the 1956 Sugar Bowl
1956 Sugar Bowl
The 1956 Sugar Bowl featured the 7th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and the 11th ranked Pitt Panthers. The game was played on January 2, since New Year's Day was a Sunday. Much controversy preceded the 1956 Sugar Bowl...

)
First African American Wimbledon
The Championships, Wimbledon
The Championships, Wimbledon, or simply Wimbledon , is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three Majors...

 tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 champion: Althea Gibson (doubles, with Englishwoman Angela Buxton
Angela Buxton
Angela Buxton is an English tennis player. She won the women's doubles title at both the French Championships and Wimbledon in 1956 with Althea Gibson.-Tennis accomplishments:...

); also first African American to win a Grand Slam event (French Open). (See also: Arthur Ashe, 1968; Serena Williams, 2003)
First African American to win the Cy Young Award
Cy Young Award
The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball , one each for the American League and National League . The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955...

 as the top pitcher
Pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, in the award's inaugural year: Don Newcombe
Don Newcombe
Donald Newcombe , nicknamed "Newk", is an American former Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher who played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers , Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians .Until 2011 when Detroit Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander did it, Newcombe was the only baseball...

 (Brooklyn Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

)

  • 1957
First African American assistant coach in the NFL: Lowell W. Perry
Lowell W. Perry
Lowell Wesley Perry was an American football player and coach, government official, businessman, and broadcaster. He was the first African American assistant coach in the National Football League , the first African American to broadcast an NFL game to a national audience, and Chrysler's first...

 (See also: 1966)
First African American to win the Best Actor Award
Best Actor Award (Cannes Film Festival)
The Best Actor Award is an award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. It is chosen by the jury from the 'official section' of movies at the festival. It was first awarded in 1946.- Award Winners :-External links:* * ....

 at the Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

: John Kitzmiller
John Kitzmiller
John Kitzmiller was an African-American actor. Born in Battle Creek, Michigan, Kitzmiller participated in the liberation of Italy during World War II. He began acting while stationed in this country, and appeared in Italian neorealist films...

 (Dolina Miru
Valley of Peace (film)
Valley of Peace is a 1956 Yugoslavian war film directed by France Štiglic. It was in competition at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. At that festival, John Kitzmiller received the best actor award for his role as Sgt. Jim.-Cast:* John Kitzmiller - Sgt...

)
First African American to win Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

's Gold Glove
Rawlings Gold Glove Award
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award, usually referred to as the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League , as voted by the...

, in the award's inaugural year: Willie Mays
Willie Mays
Willie Howard Mays, Jr. is a retired American professional baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before finishing with the New York Mets. Nicknamed The Say Hey Kid, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his...

 (New York Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

)

  • 1958
First African American to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

: Tommy Edwards
Tommy Edwards
Tommy Edwards was a singer and songwriter. His biggest-selling record was with the multi-million-selling song, "It's All in the Game."-Career:...

 ("It's All in the Game"), September 29 (See also: The Platters, 1959)
First African American flight attendant
Flight attendant
Flight attendants or cabin crew are members of an aircrew employed by airlines primarily to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard commercial flights, on select business jet aircraft, and on some military aircraft.-History:The role of a flight attendant derives from that of similar...

: Ruth Carol Taylor
Ruth Carol Taylor
Ruth Carol Taylor was the first African-American airline stewardess in the United States.Born in Boston, into a family of black, white, and Cherokee heritage, Taylor attended Elmira College and graduated as a registered nurse from the Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City.Hired in December...

 (Mohawk Airlines
Mohawk Airlines
Mohawk Airlines was an airline that operated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, primarily the states of New York and Pennsylvania from the mid-1940s until its acquisition by Allegheny Airlines in 1972...

)

  • 1959
First African-American Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 winners, in the award's inaugural year: Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Jane Fitzgerald , also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Lady Ella," was an American jazz and song vocalist...

 and Count Basie
Count Basie
William "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years...

 (two awards each)
First African American television journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

: Louis Lomax
Louis Lomax
Louis E. Lomax was an African-American journalist and author. He was also the first African-American television journalist.-Early years:...

First African American group to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

: The Platters
The Platters
The Platters were a vocal group of the early rock and roll era. Their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre...

 ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 operetta Roberta. It was originally recorded by Gertrude Niesen, on 13 October 1933 on the Victor label 24454. It was performed by Irene Dunne for the 1935 film adaptation,...

"), January 19 (See also: Tommy Edwards, 1958)
First African American to win a major national player of the year award in college basketball: Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson
Oscar Palmer Robertson , nicknamed "The Big O", is a former American NBA player with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks...

, USBWA Player of the Year
Oscar Robertson Trophy
The Oscar Robertson Trophy is given out annually to outstanding men's college basketball players by the United States Basketball Writers Association . The trophy is considered to be the oldest of its kind and has been given out since 1959...

 (in that award's inaugural year)

1960s

  • 1960
First African-American U.S. presidential candidate: Rev. Clennon King
Clennon Washington King, Jr.
Clennon Washington King, Jr. was the first African-American man to run for the office of President of the United States, and whose attempts at civil rights actions and running for office as a perennial candidate caused him to be nicknamed "The Black Don Quixote."-Family:He was the eldest son of...

, on the Independent Afro-American party

  • 1961
First African American to win the Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

: Ernie Davis
Ernie Davis
Ernest "Ernie" Davis was an American football running back and the first African-American athlete to win the Heisman Trophy. Wearing number 44, Davis competed collegiately for Syracuse University before being drafted by the Washington Redskins, then almost immediately traded to the Cleveland...


  • 1962
First African American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of...

: Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

 (See also: Satchel Paige, 1971)
First African-American coach in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

: John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil
Buck O'Neil
John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil was a first baseman and manager in the Negro American League, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days, he worked as a scout, and became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball...

 (Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. They are one of two Major League clubs based in Chicago . The Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of the National...

)
First African-American male professional wrestler to win a world heavyweight championship: Bobo Brazil
Bobo Brazil
Houston Harris was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Bobo Brazil. He is credited with breaking down barriers of racial segregation in professional wrestling...

 (NWA
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
The National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in the National Wrestling Alliance. Its lineage has been traced from the first World Heavyweight Championship, which traces its lineage to Georg Hackenschmidt's 1905 title and...

)
First African-American composer nominated for an Academy Award: Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions...

 (Best Music, Scoring of a Motion Picture, Paris Blues
Paris Blues
Paris Blues is an American feature film filmed on location in Paris, starring Sidney Poitier as expatriate jazz musician Eddie Cook, and Paul Newman as trombone-playing Ram Bowen. The two men romance two vacationing American tourists, Connie Lampson and Lillian Corning respectively...

)
First African-American attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 of a state: Edward Brooke
Edward Brooke
Edward William Brooke, III is an American politician and was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican from Massachusetts in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent, Endicott Peabody, 60.7%–38.7%...

 (Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

) (See also: 1966)

  • 1963
First African-American bank examiner for the United States Department of the Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

: Roland Burris
Roland Burris
Roland Wallace Burris is a former United States Senator from the state of Illinois and a member of the Democratic Party....

First African American named as Time magazine's
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 Man of the Year: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

First African-American police officer of the NYPD to be named a precinct commander: Lloyd Sealy
Lloyd Sealy
Lloyd George Sealy was the NYPD's first African American officer to graduate from the FBI National Academy and the first African American officer in the NYPD to make rank as the commander of a police station in 1963 serving the 28th precinct in Harlem...

, commander of the NYPD's 28th precinct in Harlem.
First African American to be named American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 MVP: Elston Howard
Elston Howard
Elston Gene Howard was an American Negro League and Major League Baseball catcher, left fielder and coach. During a 14-year baseball career, he played from 1955–1968, primarily for the New York Yankees...

 (New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

) (See also: Jackie Robinson, 1949)
First African-American chess master
Chess master
A chess master is a chess player of such skill that he/she can usually beat chess experts, who themselves typically prevail against most amateurs. Among chess players, the term is often abbreviated to master, the meaning being clear from context....

: Walter Harris
First African American to appear as a series regular on a prime time dramatic television series: Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson is an American actress. A successful stage actress, Tyson is also known for her Oscar-nominated role in the film Sounder and the television movies The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Roots....

, "East Side/West Side" (CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

).
First African Americans inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame: New York Renaissance
New York Renaissance
The New York Renaissance, also known as the Renaissance Big Five and as the Rens, was an all-black professional basketball team established February 13, 1923, by Robert "Bob" Douglas in agreement with the Renaissance Casino and Ballroom...

, inducted as a team. (See also: Bob Douglas, 1972; Bill Russell, 1975; Clarence Gaines, 1982)
First African American to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy: Charles V. Bush
Charles V. Bush
Charles V. Bush is an African-American pioneer, retired senior corporate executive and former U.S. Air Force officer. In 1954, Bush was selected by Chief Justice Earl Warren for appointment as the first African-American page of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also one of the first...

.
First African American to win a top-level NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 race: Wendell Scott
Wendell Scott
Wendell Oliver Scott was an American stock car racing driver from Danville, Virginia. He is the only black driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. According to a 2008 biography of Scott, he broke the color barrier in Southern stock car racing on May 23, 1952, at the Danville...

 at Speedway Park, Jacksonville, Florida

  • 1964
First movie with African-American interracial marriage: One Potato, Two Potato, actors Bernie Hamilton
Bernie Hamilton
Bernie Hamilton was an American actor.Hamilton was born in East Los Angeles and attended Oakland Technical High School, where he first became interested in acting. In films from 1950, he laboured in bit roles for years before getting noticed in the film One Potato, Two Potato , the story of an...

 and Barbara Barrie
Barbara Barrie
Barbara Barrie is an American actress and author of children's books.-Personal life:Barrie was born as Barbara Ann Berman in Chicago, Illinois, of Jewish heritage, the daughter of Frances Rose and Louis Berman. She was raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. She graduated from University of Texas,...

, written by Orville H. Hampton, Raphael Hayes, directed by Larry Peerce
Larry Peerce
Larry Peerce is an American film and TV director whose work includes the theatrical feature Goodbye, Columbus, the early rock and roll concert film The Big T.N.T. Show, and One Potato, Two Potato , the first U.S...

First African-American man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

: Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

 (Lilies of the Field, 1963) (See also: James Baskett
James Baskett
James Baskett was an American actor known for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, singing the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in the 1946 Disney feature film Song of the South, for which he was given an Honorary Academy Award, making him the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar.- Career...

, 1948)

  • 1965
First African-American airline pilot hired by a major U.S. passenger airline
Passenger airline
A passenger airline is an airline dedicated to the transport of passengers. Cf. cargo airline. Passenger airlines usually operate a fleet of passenger aircraft which, rather than being owned outright, are usually leased from commercial aircraft sales and leasing companies such as GECAS and...

: Marlon Green
Marlon Green
Marlon D. Green was the first African American pilot hired by a major passenger airline in the United States. He was born in El Dorado, Arkansas...

First African-American nationally syndicated
Print syndication
Print syndication distributes news articles, columns, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. They offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing content of which they own/represent copyrights....

 cartoonist
Cartoonist
A cartoonist is a person who specializes in drawing cartoons. This work is usually humorous, mainly created for entertainment, political commentary or advertising...

: Morrie Turner
Morrie Turner
Morris "Morrie" Turner is the first nationally syndicated African-American cartoonist. Raised in Oakland, California, where he still resides, Turner is the creator of comic strip Wee Pals. He grew up in West Oakland and attended McClymonds High School; in his senior year, he moved to Berkeley to...

 (Wee Pals
Wee Pals
Wee Pals is a syndicated comic strip about a diverse group of children, created and produced by Morrie Turner.-Background:Wee Pals first appeared on February 15, 1965. Syndicated by the Des Moines Register and Tribune Syndicate, the strip originally appeared in only 5 daily newspapers, as many...

)
First African-American title character of a comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 series: Lobo
Lobo (Dell Comics)
Lobo is a fictional Western comic book hero who is the medium's first African-American character to headline his own series.-Publication history:...

 (Dell Comics
Dell Comics
Dell Comics was the comic book publishing arm of Dell Publishing, which got its start in pulp magazines. It published comics from 1929 to 1973. At its peak, it was the most prominent and successful American company in the medium...

). (See also: The Falcon, 1969, and Luke Cage, 1972)
First African-American star of a network television drama: Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the...

, I Spy (co-star with Robert Culp
Robert Culp
Robert Martin Culp was an American actor, scriptwriter, voice actor and director, widely known for his work in television. Culp first earned an international reputation for his role as Kelly Robinson on I Spy , the espionage series in which he and co-star Bill Cosby played a pair of secret agents...

)
First African-American cast member of a daytime soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

: Micki Grant
Micki Grant
Micki Grant is an American singer actress, writer and composer. She performed in Having Our Say , Tambourines to Glory and Jericho-Jim Crow, The Gingham Dog, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope and has received three Tony Award nominations for her writing...

 who played Peggy Nolan Harris on Another World
Another World (TV series)
Another World is an American television soap opera that ran on NBC from May 4, 1964 to June 25, 1999. It ran for a total of 35 years. It was created by Irna Phillips along with William J...

until 1972.
First African-American Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

Playmate
Playmate
A Playmate is a female model featured in the centerfold/gatefold of Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Month . The PMOM's pictorial includes nude photographs and a centerfold poster, as well as a short biography and the "Playmate Data Sheet", which lists her birthdate, measurements, turn-ons, and...

 centerfold
Centerfold
The centerfold of a magazine refers to a gatefolded spread, usually a portrait such as a pin-up or a nude, inserted in the middle of the publication, or to the model featured in the portrait...

: Jennifer Jackson
Jennifer Jackson (model)
Jennifer Jackson is an American model who was chosen as Playboy magazine's Playmate of the month for the March 1965 issue. She was the first Black Playmate of the Month and was photographed by Pompeo Posar....

 (March issue)
First African-American U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 general: Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was an American born United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen....

 (three-star lieutenant general)
First African-American female Ambassador of the United States: Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the administration of President Jimmy Carter...

, ambassador to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 official
Official (American football)
In American football, an official is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game.During professional and college football games, seven officials operate on the field...

: Burl Toler
Burl Toler
Burl Abron Toler, Sr. was an American football official in the National Football League for 24 seasons from 1965 to 1989. He served as a field judge and head linesman throughout his career and is most notable for being the first African-American official in the NFL...

, field judge/head linesman
First African-American to win a national chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 championship: Frank Street, Jr. (U.S. Amateur Championship)
First African-American United States Solicitor General
United States Solicitor General
The United States Solicitor General is the person appointed to represent the federal government of the United States before the Supreme Court of the United States. The current Solicitor General, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 6, 2011 and sworn in on June...

: Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

 (See also: 1967)

  • 1966
First African-American coach in the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

: Bill Russell
Bill Russell
William Felton "Bill" Russell is a retired American professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association...

 (Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are a National Basketball Association team based in Boston, Massachusetts. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Founded in 1946, the team is currently owned by Boston Basketball Partners LLC. The Celtics play their home games at the TD Garden, which...

)
First African-American mayor of a U.S. city: Robert C. Henry
Robert C. Henry
Robert Clayton Henry was mayor of Springfield, Ohio from 1966 to 1968. He was the first African-American mayor of an American city of any size, though this achievement is frequently overshadowed by fellow African American mayor Carl B. Stokes, who was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1967.Henry was...

, (Springfield, Ohio
Springfield, Ohio
Springfield is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Clark County. The municipality is located in southwestern Ohio and is situated on the Mad River, Buck Creek and Beaver Creek, approximately west of Columbus and northeast of Dayton. Springfield is home to Wittenberg...

, appointed by city commission)
First African-American model on the cover of a Vogue
Vogue (magazine)
Vogue is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published monthly in 18 national and one regional edition by Condé Nast.-History:In 1892 Arthur Turnure founded Vogue as a weekly publication in the United States. When he died in 1909, Condé Montrose Nast picked up the magazine and slowly began...

(British Vogue
Vogue (British magazine)
The British edition of Vogue is a fashion magazine that has been published since 1916.When British Vogue was launched, it was the first overseas edition of an existing fashion magazine. Under the magazine's first editor, Elspeth Champcommunal, the magazine was essentially the same as the American...

) magazine: Donyale Luna
Donyale Luna
Donyale Luna was an American model and cover girl. She also appeared in several films, in Camp by Andy Warhol, Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? by William Klein, as Groucho Marx's companion in Otto Preminger's Skidoo, and most notably as Oenothea in Federico Fellini's Satyricon and as the title...

First post-Reconstruction African American elected to the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 (and first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote
Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures...

): Edward Brooke
Edward Brooke
Edward William Brooke, III is an American politician and was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican from Massachusetts in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent, Endicott Peabody, 60.7%–38.7%...

 (Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

; Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

) (See also: 1962)
First African American Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 secretary: Robert C. Weaver
Robert C. Weaver
Robert Clifton Weaver served as the first United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1966 to 1968. He was the first African American to hold a cabinet-level position in the United States.As a young man, Weaver had been one of 45 prominent African Americans appointed by...

 (Department of Housing and Urban Development
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, is a Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal government...

)
First African-American Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 umpire
Umpire (baseball)
In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and handling the disciplinary actions. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump...

: Emmett Ashford
Emmett Ashford
Emmett Littleton Ashford , nicknamed "Ash", was the first African American umpire in Major League Baseball, working in the American League from 1966 to 1970....

First African-American NFL broadcaster: Lowell W. Perry (CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, on Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 games) (See also: 1957)
First African-American fire commissioner of a major U.S. City: Robert O. Lowery
Robert O. Lowery
Robert Oliver Lowery was sworn in as the 21st Fire Commissioner of the City of New York by Mayor John V. Lindsay on January 1, 1966 and served in that position until his resignation on September 29, 1973.-Biography:...

 of the New York City Fire Department
New York City Fire Department
The New York City Fire Department or the Fire Department of the City of New York has the responsibility for protecting the citizens and property of New York City's five boroughs from fires and fire hazards, providing emergency medical services, technical rescue as well as providing first response...

First African American elected to president, American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States. It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 154,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. The APA...

: Kenneth Bancroft Clark
Kenneth and Mamie Clark
Kenneth Bancroft Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark were African-American psychologists who as a married team conducted important research among children and were active in the Civil Rights Movement...


  • 1967
First African American elected mayor of a large U.S. city: Carl B. Stokes
Carl B. Stokes
Carl Burton Stokes was an American politician of the Democratic party who served as the 51st mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. Elected on November 7, 1967, but took office on Jan 1, 1968, he was the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city. Fellow Ohioan Robert C. Henry was the first African...

 (Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

)
First African American appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

: Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

  (See also: 1965)
First African American selected for astronaut training: Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.
Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.
Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. was a United States Air Force officer and the first African-American astronaut.-Early years:...

First African American to win a PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

 event: Charlie Sifford
Charlie Sifford
Charles Sifford is an African American former professional golfer who helped to desegregate the PGA of America.Sifford was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He began work as a caddy at the age of thirteen...

 (1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational)
First African American to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

: Emlen Tunnell
Emlen Tunnell
Emlen Lewis Tunnell was an American football player. He was the first African American to play for the New York Giants, and was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1967. He played in the National Football League for the Giants and Green Bay Packers...

First African-American interracial kiss on network television: entertainers Nancy Sinatra
Nancy Sinatra
Nancy Sandra Sinatra is an American singer and actress. She is the daughter of singer/actor Frank Sinatra, and remains best known for her 1966 signature hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"....

 (Caucasian) and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Samuel George "Sammy" Davis Jr. was an American entertainer and was also known for his impersonations of actors and other celebrities....

 (African American) on Sinatra's variety special Movin' With Nancy
Movin' With Nancy
Movin' With Nancy was a television special featuring Nancy Sinatra in a series of musical vignettes featuring herself and other artists. Produced by Nancy's production company, Boots Enterprises, Inc., and sponsored by Royal Crown Cola, the show was originally broadcast on the NBC television...

, airing December 11 on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 (See also: 1968)

  • 1968
First African-American interracial kiss on a network television drama: Uhura
Uhura
Nyota Uhura is a character in Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, the first six Star Trek films, and the 2009 film Star Trek...

, played by Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting...

 (African American), and Captain Kirk
James T. Kirk
James Tiberius "Jim" Kirk is a character in the Star Trek media franchise. Kirk was first played by William Shatner as the principal lead character in the original Star Trek series. Shatner voiced Kirk in the animated Star Trek series and appeared in the first seven Star Trek movies...

, played by William Shatner
William Shatner
William Alan Shatner is a Canadian actor, musician, recording artist, and author. He gained worldwide fame and became a cultural icon for his portrayal of James T...

 (white Canadian): Star Trek
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

: "Plato's Stepchildren" (See also: 1967)
First African-American woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

: Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author. She was a Congresswoman, representing New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to Congress...

 (Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

; New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

)
First African-American appointed as a United States Assistant Secretary of State
United States Assistant Secretary of State
In modern times, Assistant Secretary of State is a title used for many executive positions in the United States State Department. A set of six Assistant Secretaries reporting to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs manage diplomatic missions within their designated geographic regions, plus one...

: Barbara M. Watson
Barbara M. Watson
Barbara Mae Watson was a United States diplomat who was the first black and the first woman to serve as an Assistant Secretary of State.-Biography:Barbara M. Watson was born in New York City on November 5, 1918, the daughter of James S...

First African-American man to win a Grand Slam tennis event: Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe
Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the United States...

 (US Open) (See also: Althea Gibson, 1956; Serena Williams, 2003)
First African American to start at quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 in the modern era of professional football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

: Marlin Briscoe
Marlin Briscoe
Marlin Oliver Briscoe is a former American collegiate and Professional Football wide receiver/quarterback who played professionally for nine years...

 (Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. They are currently members of the West Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

, AFL
American Football League
The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

)
First African-American commissioned officer awarded the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

: Riley L. Pitts
Riley L. Pitts
Riley Leroy Pitts was a United States Army Captain and the first African American commissioned officer to receive the Medal of Honor. The medal was presented posthumously by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 10, 1968 for actions in Ap Dong, South Vietnam.-Biography:Riley Leroy Pitts was...

First fine-arts museum devoted to African-American work: Studio Museum in Harlem
Studio Museum in Harlem
The Studio Museum in Harlem is an American contemporary art museum in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, New York. It was founded in 1968 as the first such museum in the U.S. devoted to the art of African-Americans, specializing in 19th and 20th century work as well work of artists of...

First African-American woman as Presidential candidate: Charlene Mitchell
Charlene Mitchell
Charlene Mitchell is an African-American international socialist, feminist, labor and civil rights activist...

 (See also: Shirley Chisholm, 1972)
First African-American woman reporter for The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

: Nancy Hicks Maynard
Nancy Hicks Maynard
Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard was an American publisher, journalist, former owner of The Oakland Tribune, and co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education...

First African-American coach to win NBA Championship: Bill Russell
Bill Russell
William Felton "Bill" Russell is a retired American professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association...


  • 1969
First African-American superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

: The Falcon
Falcon (comics)
The Falcon is a fictional comic book superhero in comic books published by Marvel Comics.Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan, and introduced in Captain America #117 , the character is mainstream comics' first African-American superhero...

, Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

' Captain America
Captain America
Captain America is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 , from Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics, and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby...

#117 (Sept. 1969). (See also: Lobo, 1965 and Luke Cage, 1972)
First African-American graduate of Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is widely recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. The school offers the world's largest full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and many executive...

: Lillian Lincoln
Lillian Lincoln
Lillian Lincoln Lambert is an African-American businesswoman. She is known for being the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Business School ....

First African-American director of a major Hollywood motion picture: Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director...

 (The Learning Tree
The Learning Tree
The Learning Tree is a 1969 drama film which tells the story of a young African American growing up in rural Kansas during the late 1920s and early 1930s, when racial discrimination was a social norm, legally sanctioned in parts of the United States. Written and directed by Gordon Parks, the film...

)
First African-American founder of a classical training school and company of ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

: Arthur Mitchell
Arthur Mitchell (dancer)
Arthur Mitchell is an African-American dancer and choreographer who created a training school and the first African-American classical ballet company, Dance Theatre of Harlem...

, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem is a ballet company and school of the allied arts founded in Harlem, New York City, USA in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook...

 (See also: 1955)
First African-American woman to appear on the Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee, that has presented the biggest stars of that genre since 1925. It is also among the longest-running broadcasts in history since its beginnings as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM-AM...

: Linda Martell
Linda Martell
Linda Martell, born Thelma Bynem , is an American rhythm and blues and country music singer. In August 1969, she became the first African-American woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.-Biography:...


1970s

  • 1970
First African-American U.S. Navy Master Diver: Carl Brashear
Carl Brashear
Carl Maxie Brashear was the first African American to become a U.S. Navy Master Diver in 1970.-Early life:...

First African-American member of the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

: Joseph L. Searles III
Joseph L. Searles III
On February 13, 1970, Joseph L. Searles III became the first black floor member and floor broker in the New York Stock ExchangeHe was a member of the Stock Exchange Luncheon Club....

First African-American basketball player to win the NBA All Star MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, & the NBA MVP all in the same season: Willis Reed
Willis Reed
Willis Reed, Jr. is a retired American basketball player, coach and manager of basketball teams. He spent his entire professional playing career with the New York Knicks. In 1982, his outstanding record and achievements were recognized by his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall...

 (New York Knicks
New York Knicks
The New York Knickerbockers, prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association...

)
First African-American NCAA Division I basketball coach: Will Robinson
Will Robinson (basketball)
Will Robinson was an American college basketball coach and scout. Robinson became the first African-American head coach in Division I history when he accepted the position at Illinois State University in 1970.-Early life:...

 (Illinois State University
Illinois State University
Illinois State University , founded in 1857, is the oldest public university in Illinois; it is located in the town of Normal. ISU is considered a "national university" that grants a variety of doctoral degrees and strongly emphasizes research; it is also recognized as one of the top ten largest...

)

  • 1971
First African-American owners of a radio station: Hal Jackson
Hal Jackson
Harold Baron Jackson is an American disk jockey and radio personality who broke a number of color barriers in American radio broadcasting.-Early years:Jackson was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Washington, D.C...

 and Percy Sutton
Percy Sutton
Percy Ellis Sutton was a prominent black American political and business leader. A civil-rights activist and lawyer, he was also a Freedom Rider and the legal representative for Malcolm X...

, WLIB
WLIB
WLIB is an urban contemporary gospel AM radio station located in New York City. WLIB is owned by Inner City Broadcasting Corporation along with sister station WBLS...

-New York
First African-American pitcher
Pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of...

: Satchel Paige
Satchel Paige
Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball made him a legend in his own lifetime...

 (See also: Jackie Robinson, 1962)
First African-American president of the New York City Board of Education
New York City Board of Education
The New York City Board of Education is the governing body of the New York City Department of Education. The members of the board are appointed by the mayor and by the five borough presidents.-Rise, fall and return of Mayoral Control:...

: Isaiah Edward Robinson, Jr.
Isaiah Edward Robinson, Jr.
Isaiah Edward Robinson, Jr., is the first African American president of the New York City Board of Education. He chaired the Board's Decentralization Committee from May, 1969 to April, 1970...

First African American to win an Academy Award in a non-acting category, winning Academy Award for Best Original Song
Academy Award for Best Original Song
The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film...

: Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. was an American songwriter, musician, singer and actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the...


  • 1972
First African American to campaign for the U.S. presidency in a major political party and to win a U.S. presidential primary/caucus: Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author. She was a Congresswoman, representing New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to Congress...

 (Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, New Jersey primary) (See also: 1968)
First African-American superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 to star in own comic-book series: Luke Cage
Luke Cage
Luke Cage is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist John Romita, Sr., he first appeared in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1...

, Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

' Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972). (See also: Lobo, 1965, and the Falcon, 1969)
First African-American general manager
General manager
General manager is a descriptive term for certain executives in a business operation. It is also a formal title held by some business executives, most commonly in the hospitality industry.-Generic usage:...

 in the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

: Wayne Embry
Wayne Embry
Wayne Richard Embry is a retired American basketball player; a center/forward whose 11-year career spanned from 1959 to 1969...

First African-American interracial kiss in a mainstream comics magazine: "The Men Who Called Him Monster", by writer Don McGregor
Don McGregor
Donald Francis McGregor is an American comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Comics, and the author of one of the first graphic novels.-Early life and career:...

 (See also: 1975) and artist Luis Garcia, in Warren Publishing
Warren Publishing
Warren Publishing was an American magazine company founded by James Warren, who published his first magazines in 1957 and continued in the business for decades...

's black-and-white horror
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

-comics magazine Creepy
Creepy
Creepy was an American horror-comics magazine launched by Warren Publishing in 1964. Like Mad, it was a black-and-white newsstand publication in a magazine format and thus did not require the approval or seal of the Comics Code Authority. The anthology magazine was initially published quarterly but...

#43 (Jan. 1972)
First African-American interracial male kiss on network television: Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Samuel George "Sammy" Davis Jr. was an American entertainer and was also known for his impersonations of actors and other celebrities....

 (African American) and Carroll O'Connor
Carroll O'Connor
John Carroll O'Connor best known as Carroll O'Connor, was an American actor, producer and director whose television career spanned four decades...

 (Caucasian) in All in the Family
All in the Family
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker's Place, picked up where All in the Family had ended...

First African-American individual inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame: Team-owner and coach Bob Douglas
Bob Douglas
Robert L. "Bob" Douglas was the founder of the New York Renaissance basketball team. Nicknamed the "Father of Black Professional Basketball", Douglas owned and coached the Rens from 1923 to 1949, guiding them to a 2,318-381 record...

, in the category of "contributor" (See also: New York Renaissance, 1963; player Bill Russell, 1975; coach Clarence Gaines, 1982)
First African-American woman Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 director: Vinnette Justine Carroll
Vinnette Justine Carroll
Vinnette Justine Carroll was an American playwright, and the first African American woman to direct on Broadway, with the 1972 musical Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope.- Biography :...

 (Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope
Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope
Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope is a musical revue with music and lyrics by Micki Grant. It was originally produced by Edward Padula.The all-singing, all-dancing show focuses on the African American experience with songs on such topics as tenements, slumlords, ghetto life, student protests, black...

)
First African-American comic-book creator to receive a "created by" cover-credit: Wayne Howard
Wayne Howard
Wayne Wright Howard was an African-American comic book artist best known for his 1970s work at Charlton Comics, where he became American comic books' first known cover-credited series creator, with the horror anthology Midnight Tales blurbing "Created by Wayne Howard" on each issue — "a...

 (Midnight Tales
Midnight Tales
Midnight Tales was a horror-suspense anthology comic book series created by Wayne Howard and published by Charlton Comics from 1972 to 1976. The book was "hosted" by Professor Coffin and his niece Arachne...

#1)

  • 1973
First African American elected mayor of Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

: Tom Bradley
Tom Bradley (politician)
Thomas J. "Tom" Bradley was the 38th Mayor of Los Angeles, California, serving in that office from 1973 to 1993. He was the first and to date only African American mayor of Los Angeles...

First African-American Bond Girl
Bond girl
A Bond girl is a character or actress portraying a love interest, of James Bond in a film, novel, or video game. They occasionally have names that are double entendres or puns, such as "Pussy Galore", "Plenty O'Toole", "Xenia Onatopp", or "Holly Goodhead"...

 in a James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 movie: Gloria Hendry
Gloria Hendry
Gloria Hendry is an American actress. She is sometimes credited as "Gloria Henry."-Career:Hendry began her acting career in the 1968 Sidney Poitier film For Love of Ivy....

 (playing Rosie Carver), Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die (film)
Live and Let Die is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman...

.
First African-American Bond villain: Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Frederick Kotto is an African-American actor, known for numerous film roles , and his starring role in the NBC television series Homicide: Life on the Street .-Early life:Kotto was born in New York City, the son of Gladys Marie, a...

, playing Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga
Mister Big (James Bond)
Mr. Big is a fictional character and the main antagonist in the James Bond novel and film Live and Let Die. In the film, Big is portrayed by actor Yaphet Kotto. The novel and film versions of Mr. Big are extremely different, with the film incarnation bordering on being a completely new character...

, Live and Let Die.
First African-American woman mayor of a U.S. metropolitan city: Doris A. Davis
Doris A. Davis
Doris A. Davis is a former mayor of Compton, California, who earned a place in history as the first African-American woman mayor of a metropolitan city in the United States.-Political career:...

, Compton, California
Compton, California
Compton is a city in southern Los Angeles County, California, United States, southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The city of Compton is one of the oldest cities in the county and on May 11, 1888, was the eighth city to incorporate. The city is considered part of the South side by residents of Los...

First African-American artistic director
Artistic director
An artistic director is the executive of an arts organization, particularly in a theatre company, that handles the organization's artistic direction. He or she is generally a producer and director, but not in the sense of a mogul, since the organization is generally a non-profit organization...

 of a professional regional theater: Harold Scott
Harold Scott (director)
Harold Russell Scott, Jr. was an American stage director, actor and educator, who broke racial barriers in American theatre...

 (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The was founded in 1959 by college student Gerald Covell and was one of the first regional theatres in the United States. Located in Eden Park, the first play that premiered at the Playhouse on October 10, 1960, was Meyer Levin's Compulsion...

)

  • 1974
First African-American model on the cover of American Vogue
Vogue (magazine)
Vogue is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published monthly in 18 national and one regional edition by Condé Nast.-History:In 1892 Arthur Turnure founded Vogue as a weekly publication in the United States. When he died in 1909, Condé Montrose Nast picked up the magazine and slowly began...

magazine: Beverly Johnson
Beverly Johnson
Beverly Johnson is an American model, actress, and businesswoman. She made history when she rose to fame as the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in 1974...


  • 1975
First African American elected mayor, and first mayor, of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

: Walter Washington
Walter Washington
Walter Edward Washington, was an American politician, the first home-rule mayor of the District of Columbia...

First African-American manager in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

: Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson , is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. He played from 1956–1976, most notably for the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. He is the only player to win league MVP honors in both the National and American Leagues...

 (Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Since , they have played in Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona...

)
First African-American four-star general
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

: Daniel James, Jr.
First African-American women named as Time magazine's
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

, Person of the Year: Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan
Barbara Charline Jordan was an American politician who was both a product and a leader, of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives...

 and Addie L. Wyatt
Addie L. Wyatt
Addie L. Wyatt is leader in the United States Labor movement, and a civil rights activist. Wyatt is known for being the first African-American woman elected international vice president of a major labor union, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. Wyatt began her career in the union in the early...

First TV-series cast with African-American interracial couple: The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons is an American sitcom that was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, through June 25, 1985, lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes. The show was produced by the T.A.T. Communications Company from 1975–1982 and by Embassy Television from 1982-1985...

, actors Franklin Cover
Franklin Cover
Franklin Edward Cover was an American actor most noted for starring on the sitcom The Jeffersons. His character, Tom Willis, was half of one of the first interracial marriages to be seen on prime-time television....

 (Caucasian) and Roxie Roker
Roxie Roker
Roxie Albertha Roker was an American actress, best known for her groundbreaking role as Helen Willis on the sitcom The Jeffersons, half of the first interracial couple to be shown on regular prime time television...

 (African American) as Tom & Helen Willis; series creator: Norman Lear
Norman Lear
Norman Milton Lear is an American television writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude...

First African-American model on the cover of ELLE
Elle
Elle may refer to:*Elle, Central African Republic*Elle , a fashion publication*Ellé, a river in France*Elle , a female given name*Elle , a Sri Lankan game similar to baseball*Ælle of Sussex, a Saxon king...

magazine: Beverly Johnson
First African American to win Super Bowl MVP
Super Bowl MVP
The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, or Super Bowl MVP, is an award presented annually to the most valuable player of the Super Bowl, the National Football League's championship game. The winner is chosen by a fan vote during the game and by a panel of 16 American football writers and...

 in NFL: Franco Harris
Franco Harris
Franco Harris is a former American football player. He played his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks.In the 1972 NFL Draft he was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, the 13th selection overall...

 (Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

). Of mixed heritage, Harris was also first Italian American to win the award.
First African-American game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

 host: Adam Wade (CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

' Musical Chairs)
First African-American interracial kiss in a color comic book: Amazing Adventures
Amazing Adventures
Amazing Adventures is the name of several anthology comic book series, all but one published by Marvel Comics.The earliest Marvel series of that name introduced the company's first superhero of the late-1950s to early-1960s period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books...

#31 (July 1975), feature "Killraven
Killraven
Killraven is a fictional freedom fighter in several post-apocalyptic alternate futures of the Marvel Comics universe. He first appeared in Amazing Adventures #18 , created by co-plotters Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, scripter Gerry Conway, and penciller Adams...

: Warrior of the Worlds", characters M'Shulla Scott and Carmilla Frost, by writer Don McGregor
Don McGregor
Donald Francis McGregor is an American comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Comics, and the author of one of the first graphic novels.-Early life and career:...

 (See also: 1972) and artist P. Craig Russell
P. Craig Russell
Philip Craig Russell , also known as P. Craig Russell, is an American comic book writer, artist, and illustrator. His work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards...

First African American inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player: Bill Russell
Bill Russell
William Felton "Bill" Russell is a retired American professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association...

 (See also: New York Renaissance, 1963; Bob Douglas, 1972; Clarence Gaines, 1982)
First African American to play in a men's major golf championship
Men's major golf championships
The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the Major Championships, and often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf...

: Lee Elder
Lee Elder
Robert Lee Elder is an American golfer. He is best remembered for becoming the first African-American to play in the Masters Tournament in 1975.-Background and family:...

 (The Masters
1975 Masters Tournament
The 1975 Masters Tournament was a golf tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club. Jack Nicklaus won his fifth Masters title.-Final leaderboard:-External links:*...

)

  • 1976
First African-American woman elected officer of international labor union: Addie L. Wyatt
Addie L. Wyatt
Addie L. Wyatt is leader in the United States Labor movement, and a civil rights activist. Wyatt is known for being the first African-American woman elected international vice president of a major labor union, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. Wyatt began her career in the union in the early...


  • 1977
First African American, and first woman, appointed director of the Peace Corps
Peace Corps
The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the United States Government, as well as a government agency of the same name. The mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand US culture, and helping...

: Carolyn R. Payton
Carolyn R. Payton
Carolyn Robertson Payton was appointed Director of the United States Peace Corps in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. She was the first female and the first African American to be Peace Corps Director...

First African-American woman in the U.S. Cabinet: Patricia Roberts Harris, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
First African-American woman whose signature appeared on U.S. currency: Azie Taylor Morton
Azie Taylor Morton
Azie Taylor Morton served as Treasurer of the United States during the Carter administration . She remains the only African American to hold that office. Her signature was printed on U.S. currency during her tenure; this is an honor she shared with four African American men...

, the 36th Treasurer of the United States
Treasurer of the United States
The Treasurer of the United States is an official in the United States Department of the Treasury that was originally charged with the receipt and custody of government funds, though many of these functions have been taken over by different bureaus of the Department of the Treasury...

First African-American publisher of mainstream gay publication: Alan Bell (Gaysweek
Gaysweek
Gaysweek was New York City's first mainstream weekly lesbian and gay newspaper. It was founded by Alan Bell in 1977. Gaysweek began as an 8-page single-color tabloid and when it ceased publication in 1979 after 104 issues, it had grown to a 24-page two-color publication. Its monthly arts...

)
First African-American woman to join the Daughters of the American Revolution
Daughters of the American Revolution
The Daughters of the American Revolution is a lineage-based membership organization for women who are descended from a person involved in United States' independence....

: Karen Batchelor

  • 1978
First African-American broadcast network news anchor: Max Robinson
Max Robinson
Max Robinson was an American broadcast journalist, and ABC News World News Tonight co-anchor. He was the first African American broadcast network news anchor in the United States and one of the first television journalists to die of AIDS...


  • 1979
First African American and first person to win the Emmy Award Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries: Esther Rolle
Esther Rolle
Esther Rolle was an American actress. She was perhaps best known for her portrayal of Florida Evans on the CBS television sitcom Maude and its spin-off series Good Times.-Biography:...

First African-American U.S. Marine Corps general officer: Frank E. Petersen
Frank E. Petersen
Frank E. Petersen Jr. is a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General. He was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general....

First African-American man to win Daytime Emmy Award
Daytime Emmy Award
The Daytime Emmy Awards are awards presented by the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in American daytime television programming...

 for lead actor in a soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

: Al Freeman, Jr.
Al Freeman, Jr.
Al Freeman, Jr., M.Ed. is an African-American actor and director....

 (Ed Hall in One Life to Live
One Life to Live
One Life to Live is an American soap opera which debuted on July 15, 1968 and has been broadcast on the ABC television network. Created by Agnes Nixon, the series was the first daytime drama to primarily feature racially and socioeconomically diverse characters and consistently emphasize social...

)
First African-American head football coach in Division I-A: Willie Jeffries
Willie Jeffries
Willie Jeffries, was a college football coach. In his 29-year career, Jeffries compiled a 179-132-6 record. He coached 19 years at his alma mater South Carolina State University in two stints, five years at Wichita State University, and five years at Howard University...


1980s

  • 1980
First African-American television channel Black Entertainment Television
Black Entertainment Television
Black Entertainment Television is an American, Viacom-owned cable network based in Washington, D.C.. Currently viewed in more than 90 million homes worldwide, it is the most prominent television network targeting young Black-American audiences. The network was launched on January 25, 1980, by its...

  • 1981
First African American to play in the NHL
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

: Val James
Val James
Valmore Edwin James is a retired American professional ice hockey left winger who played 2 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs...

 (Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League .-Founding and early success: 1970-71—1980-81:...

)

  • 1982
First African-American male to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

: Louis Gossett, Jr.
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr. is an American actor best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman and Fiddler in the 1970s television miniseries Roots...

First African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama was first awarded in 1918.From 1918 to 2006, the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 2 to March 1, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year...

: Charles Fuller
Charles Fuller
Charles H. Fuller, Jr. is an American playwright, best known for his play, A Soldier's Play, for which he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.-Early years:...

 for A Soldier's Play
A Soldier's Play
A Soldier's Play is a drama by Charles Fuller. The play uses a murder mystery to explore the complicated feelings of anger and resentment that some African Americans have toward one another, and the ways in which many black Americans have absorbed white racist attitudes.This play is loosely based...

First African American inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach: Clarence Gaines
Clarence Gaines
Clarence Edward "Big House" Gaines, Sr. was a college men's basketball coach with a 47-year coaching career at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.-Early years:...

 (See also: New York Renaissance, 1963; Bob Douglas, 1972; Bill Russell, 1975)
First African-American U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 four-star General
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

: Roscoe Robinson, Jr.
Roscoe Robinson, Jr.
Roscoe Robinson, Jr. , was the first African American to become a four-star general in the United States Army....


  • 1983
First African-American astronaut: Guion Stewart "Guy" Bluford, Jr.
Guion Bluford
Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. , is an engineer, retired Colonel from the United States Air Force and a former NASA Astronaut. He participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992...

 (Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

 mission STS-8
STS-8
STS-8 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission which launched on 30 August 1983 and landed on 5 September; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford...

).
First African-American mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

: Harold Washington
Harold Washington
Harold Lee Washington was an American lawyer and politician who became the first African-American Mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983 until his death in 1987.- Early years and military service :...

First African-American Miss America
Miss America
The Miss America pageant is a long-standing competition which awards scholarships to young women from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands...

: Vanessa L. Williams
Vanessa L. Williams
Vanessa Lynn Williams is an American pop-R&B recording artist, producer, dancer, model, actress and showgirl. In 1983, she became the first woman of African-American descent to be crowned Miss America, but a scandal generated by her having posed for nude photographs published in Penthouse magazine...

First African-American owners of a major metropolitan newspaper: Robert C.
Robert C. Maynard
Robert Clyve Maynard was an American journalist, and newspaper publisher and editor, former owner of The Oakland Tribune and co-founder of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, California....

 and Nancy Hicks Maynard
Nancy Hicks Maynard
Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard was an American publisher, journalist, former owner of The Oakland Tribune, and co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education...

, (Oakland Tribune)
First African-American WWE Tag Team Champion: Tony Atlas
Tony Atlas
Anthony White better known by his ring name "Tony Atlas" is an American bodybuilder, powerlifter, and professional wrestler who has held multiple titles and championships in each sport. He is also known by his bodybuilding title, "Mr...

 (partnered with Rocky Johnson
Rocky Johnson
Rocky Johnson is a retired Canadian professional wrestler. Quite popular in his own right in the 1970s and 1980s, he is also known for being the father of actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson...

, a Black Nova Scotian
Black Nova Scotians
Black Nova Scotians are people of Black African descent whose ancestors fled Colonial America as slaves or freemen to settle in Nova Scotia, Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. According to the 2006 Census of Canada, there are 19,230 black people currently living in Nova Scotia, most of whom...

) (See also: Doom, 1990; Men on a Mission, 1994)

  • 1984
First African American to win a delegate-awarding U.S. presidential primary/caucus: Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

 (Louisiana, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Virginia and one of two separate Mississippi contests).
First African-American coach to win the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship
The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship is a single-elimination tournament held each spring in the United States, featuring 68 college basketball teams, to determine the national championship in the top tier of college basketball...

: John Thompson
John Thompson (basketball)
John R. Thompson, Jr. is an American former basketball coach for the Georgetown University Hoyas. He is now a professional radio and TV sports commentator...

 (Georgetown
1983–84 Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team
The 1983–84 Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team represented Georgetown University. The Head Coach was John Thompson. The team was a member of the Big East Conference.-Roster:Coaches: John Thompson-NCAA basketball tournament:*East...

)
First African-American New York City Police Commissioner: Benjamin Ward
Benjamin Ward
Benjamin Ward was the first African American New York City Police Commissioner. Ward was one of 11 children and was born in the Weeksville section of Brooklyn, New York.-Military and Police experience:...


  • 1985
First African American to become a member of the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's Blue Angels
Blue Angels
The United States Navy's Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, popularly known as the Blue Angels, was formed in 1946 and is currently the oldest formal flying aerobatic team...

 precision flying team: Donnie Cochran
Donnie Cochran
Captain Donnie L. Cochran was the first African-American aviator assigned to the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron in 1986. Cochran later assumed command of the Blue Angels in 1994.-Personal Biography:Donnie L...

. Also first African American to command the team (1994).

  • 1986
First African-American Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 racecar
Auto racing
Auto racing is a motorsport involving the racing of cars for competition. It is one of the world's most watched televised sports.-The beginning of racing:...

 driver: Willy T. Ribbs
Willy T. Ribbs
William "Willy" Theodore Ribbs, Jr. is a racecar driver who competed in many forms of auto racing. After retiring, he became a sport shooter in the National Sporting Clays Association....

 (See also: Ribbs, 1991)
First African-American musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

, in the inaugural class: Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" , "Roll Over Beethoven" , "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B...

, James Brown
James Brown
James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of Funk and is recognized as a major figure in the 20th century popular music for both his vocals and dancing. He has been referred to as "The Godfather of Soul," "Mr...

, Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
Samuel Cook, , better known under the stage name Sam Cooke, was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and...

, Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Creole was his first language....

, and Little Richard
Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman , known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and...

First African-American to die in spaceflight: Ronald McNair
Ronald McNair
Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D. was a physicist and NASA astronaut. McNair died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L.-Background:...

First African-American wrestling manager: Slick

  • 1987
First African-American woman, and first woman, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

: Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is also adept at jazz, blues, R&B, gospel music, and rock. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All...


  • 1988
First African-American woman elected to a U.S. judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

ship, and first appointed to a state supreme court
State supreme court
In the United States, the state supreme court is the highest state court in the state court system ....

: Juanita Kidd Stout
Juanita Kidd Stout
Juanita Kidd Stout was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania from 1988–1989, and the first African-American woman elected to any judgeship in the United States and the first to serve on the Supreme Court of any state.Stout studied at the University of Iowa...

First African-American candidate for President of the United States to obtain ballot access in all 50 states: Lenora Fulani
Lenora Fulani
Lenora Branch Fulani is an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and political activist. She may be best known for her presidential campaigns and development of youth programs serving minority communities in the New York City area...

First African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics (a bronze in figure skating): Debi Thomas
Debi Thomas
Debra Janine "Debi" Thomas M.D. is an American figure skater and physician. She is the 1986 World champion and 1988 Olympic bronze medalist, having taken part in the Battle of the Carmens at those games.-Personal life:...

First African-American quarterback to start (and win) in the Super Bowl: Doug Williams
First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 referee: Johnny Grier
Johnny Grier
Johnny Grier was an American football official for 23 years in the National Football League from 1981 to 2004. He began in the NFL as a field judge before becoming the first African-American referee in the history of the NFL with the start of the 1988 NFL season...


  • 1989
First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 coach of the modern era: Art Shell
Art Shell
Arthur "Art" Shell is an American former collegiate and professional football player in the American Football League and later in the NFL, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and a two-time former head coach of the Oakland Raiders...

, Los Angeles Raiders
First African-American mayor of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

: David Dinkins
David Dinkins
David Norman Dinkins is a former politician from New York City. He was the Mayor of New York City from 1990 through 1993; he was the first and is, to date, the only African American to hold that office.-Early life:...

First African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

: Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

First African American, and first woman, ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

: Barbara Clementine Harris
Barbara Clementine Harris
Barbara Clementine Harris was the first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion.-Education:...

First African-American Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day to day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support...

: Ron Brown
Ron Brown (U.S. politician)
Ronald Harmon "Ron" Brown was the United States Secretary of Commerce, serving during the first term of President Bill Clinton. He was the first African American to hold this position...


1990s

  • 1990
First elected African-American governor: Douglas Wilder
Douglas Wilder
Lawrence Douglas "Doug" Wilder is an American politician, the first African American to be elected as governor of Virginia, and the second to serve as governor of a U.S. state. Wilder served as the 66th Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. When earlier elected as Lieutenant Governor, he was...

 (Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

; Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

) (See also: Oscar Dunn, 1871; P. B. S. Pinchback, 1872)
First African American elected president of the Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School.-Overview:According to the 2008 Journal Citation Reports, the Review is the most cited law review and has the second-highest impact factor in the category "law" after the...

: Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 (See also: 2008, 2009)
First African-American Miss USA
Miss USA
The Miss USA beauty contest has been held annually since 1952 to select the United States entrant in the Miss Universe pageant. The Miss Universe Organization operates both pageants, as well as Miss Teen USA...

: Carole Gist
Carole Gist
Carole Anne-Marie Gist was the first African American woman to win the Miss USA title. Gist first won the title of Miss Michigan USA and went on to win the Miss USA crown on March 2, 1990 in Wichita, Kansas...

First African-American Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

Playmate of the Year: Renee Tenison
Renee Tenison
Reneé Tenison is an American model and actress.Reneé has three older brothers and an identical twin sister, Rosie, who also works as a model...

First all African-American band to win the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance
Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance
The Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance was an award presented to recording artists at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, for works containing quality performances in the hard rock music genre...

: Living Colour
Living Colour
Living Colour is an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1984. Stylistically, the band's music is a creative fusion influenced by free jazz, funk, neo-psychedelia, hard rock, and heavy metal...

 for "Cult of Personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

"
First African American tag team to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Championship
The World Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championship was a professional wrestling world tag team championship in World Championship Wrestling...

: Doom
Doom (professional wrestling)
Doom was a professional wrestling tag team composed of Ron Simmons and Butch Reed. They competed from 1989 to 1991 in the National Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling .-Before the masks:...

 (Butch Reed
Butch Reed
Butch Reed is an American professional wrestler best known for his stints in the World Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance/World Championship Wrestling.-Career:...

 and Ron Simmons
Ron Simmons
Ronald "Ron" Simmons is an American semi-retired professional wrestler and retired American football player. He is recognised as being the first Black world heavyweight champion in professional wrestling and the first of only two African Americans to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship,...

) (See also: Tony Atlas, 1983; Men on a Mission, 1994)

  • 1991
First African American nominated for a Best Director Academy Award. John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood
Boyz N the Hood
Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood film written and directed by John Singleton. Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Angela Bassett and Regina King, the film depicts life in poor South Central Los Angeles, California and was filmed and released...

First African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, also known as the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Miles at Indianapolis, the Indy 500 or The 500, is an American automobile race, held annually, typically on the last weekend in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana...

 auto race
Auto racing
Auto racing is a motorsport involving the racing of cars for competition. It is one of the world's most watched televised sports.-The beginning of racing:...

: Willy T. Ribbs
Willy T. Ribbs
William "Willy" Theodore Ribbs, Jr. is a racecar driver who competed in many forms of auto racing. After retiring, he became a sport shooter in the National Sporting Clays Association....

 (See also: Ribbs, 1986)
First African-American woman mayor of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

: Sharon Pratt Kelly
Sharon Pratt Kelly
Sharon Pratt Kelly , formerly Sharon Pratt Dixon and now known as Sharon Pratt, was the third mayor of the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1995. Pratt was the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city...

First African-American NBA Coach of the Year
NBA Coach of the Year Award
The National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual National Basketball Association award given since the 1962–63 NBA season. The winner receives the Red Auerbach Trophy, which is named in honor of the head coach who led the Boston Celtics to nine NBA Championships from 1956 to 1966...

: Don Chaney
Don Chaney
Donald Ray Chaney is an American former professional basketball player and coach, most notable for his long stints as a player on the Boston Celtics.-Career as a player:...

 (Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being...

)

  • 1992
First African-American WCW World Heavyweight Champion
WCW World Heavyweight Championship
The World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation . It existed within WCW between 1991 and 2001. Following the acquisition of WCW by World Wrestling...

: Ron Simmons
Ron Simmons
Ronald "Ron" Simmons is an American semi-retired professional wrestler and retired American football player. He is recognised as being the first Black world heavyweight champion in professional wrestling and the first of only two African Americans to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship,...

First African-American woman astronaut: Dr. Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
Mae Carol Jemison is an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.-Early years:...

 (Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

)
First African-American woman elected to U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

: Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun is an American feminist politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first and to date only African-American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator in an...

 (Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

; Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

)
First African American to manage a Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 team to a World Series
World Series
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...

 Championship: Cito Gaston
Cito Gaston
Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. His major league career as a player lasted from 1967–1978, most notably for the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves...

 (Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are a professional baseball team located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball 's American League ....

)
First African-American woman to moderate a Presidential debate
United States presidential election debates
During presidential elections in the United States, it has become customary for the main candidates to engage in a debate...

 : Carole Simpson
Carole Simpson
Carole Simpson is a broadcast journalist, news anchor, and author- Biography :Simpson, a graduate of the University of Michigan, began her career on radio at WCFL in Chicago, Illinois. She moved to television at Chicago's WMAQ and onto NBC News in 1974, becoming the first African-American woman...

 (second debate of 1992 campaign)

  • 1993
First African-American woman appointed U.S. Secretary of Energy: Hazel R. O'Leary
First African American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature: Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved...

First African-American woman named Poet Laureate of the United States: Rita Dove
Rita Dove
Rita Frances Dove is an American poet and author. From 1993-1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position now popularly known as "U.S. Poet Laureate"...

, also the youngest person named to that position
First African American appointed Surgeon General of the United States: Joycelyn Elders
First African American appointed Director of the National Drug Control Policy: Lee P. Brown
Lee P. Brown
Lee Patrick Brown had a long-time career in law enforcement, leading police departments in Atlanta, Houston and New York over the course of nearly four decades. During this time he helped to implement a number of techniques in community policing that appeared to result in substantial decreases in...

First African-American United States Secretary of Commerce: Ron Brown
Ron Brown (U.S. politician)
Ronald Harmon "Ron" Brown was the United States Secretary of Commerce, serving during the first term of President Bill Clinton. He was the first African American to hold this position...

  • 1994
First African-American woman director of a major-studio movie: Darnell Martin
Darnell Martin
Darnell Martin is a television and film director, screenwriter, and film producer.-Early life:Martin was born in Bronx, New York. From the Bronx, she went on to Sarah Lawrence College and New York University Film School...

 (Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

' I Like It Like That)
First African American to win the United States Amateur Championship: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No...

First tag team made up of two African Americans to win the WWE Tag Team Championship: Men on a Mission
Men on a Mission
Men on a Mission was the World Wrestling Federation name for the pairing of wrestlers Nelson Frazier, Jr. and Robert Horne, who wrestled as Mabel and Mo respectively...

 (Nelson Frazier, Jr.
Nelson Frazier, Jr.
Nelson Frazier, Jr. is an American professional wrestler and actor, better known by his ring names Mabel, Viscera, Big Daddy V, and King V. He is best known for his work with World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment...

, aka Mabel, and Robert Horne
Robert Horne (wrestler)
Robert Lawrence Horne is a retired American professional wrestler who is most famous for his time in the World Wrestling Federation as Mo, part of the tag-team Men on a Mission with partner Mabel.-Harlem Knights:...

, aka Mo) (See also: Tony Atlas, 1983; Doom, 1990)

  • 1995
First African-American inductee to the Radio Hall of Fame
Radio Hall of Fame
The National Radio Hall of Fame is a project of the Museum of Broadcast Communications.Although no physical building currently exists to house it, the National Radio Hall of Fame is a project of Bruce DuMont, CEO of the currently homeless Museum of Broadcast Communications, and is purported to be a...

: Hal Jackson
Hal Jackson
Harold Baron Jackson is an American disk jockey and radio personality who broke a number of color barriers in American radio broadcasting.-Early years:Jackson was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Washington, D.C...

First African-American Sergeant Major of the Army
Sergeant Major of the Army
The Sergeant Major of the Army is a unique non-commissioned rank in the United States Army. The holder of this rank is the most senior enlisted member of the Army, unless an Army NCO is serving as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, when in that case that NCO will be the most senior...

: Gene C. McKinney
Gene C. McKinney
Gene McKinney was the 10th Sergeant Major of the Army of the United States, serving from July 1995 to October 1997. He was the first and to date the only African-American to reach that rank in the United States Army. McKinney was the only Sergeant Major of the Army to resign...


  • 1996
First African-American mayor of San Francisco: Willie Lewis Brown, Jr.
Willie Brown (politician)
Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. is an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly, spending 15 years as its Speaker, and afterward served as the 41st mayor of San Francisco, the first African American to do so...

 (also first African-American Speaker of the California Assembly, 1980)
First African-American U.S. Navy four-star admiral
Admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, admiral is a four-star flag officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. Admiral ranks above vice admiral and below Fleet Admiral in the Navy; the Coast Guard and the Public Health...

: J. Paul Reason
J. Paul Reason
Joseph Paul Reason was Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet from 1996 to 1999. Earlier in his career, as a commander, he was naval aide to the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, from December 1976 to June 1979...

First African-American MLB
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 general manager to win the World Series
World Series
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...

: Bob Watson (New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

), 1996 World Series

  • 1997
First African American to win a men's major golf championship
Men's major golf championships
The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the Major Championships, and often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf...

: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No...

 (The Masters)
First African-American model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition: Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks
Tyra Lynne Banks is an American model, media personality, actress, occasional singer, author and businesswoman. She first became famous as a model, but television appearances were her commercial breakthrough...

First African-American actor to star in the lead role in a comic-book adaptation movie (Spawn
Spawn (film)
Spawn is a 1997 American superhero film loosely based on the comic book of the same name, by Todd McFarlane and published by Image Comics. Directed and co-written by Mark A.Z. Dippé , the film stars Michael Jai White in the leading role...

): Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn...

First African-American Director of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

: Robert Stanton

  • 1998
First African American appointed U.S. Secretary of Labor: Alexis Herman
Alexis Herman
Alexis Margaret Herman was the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor, serving under President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.-Background:The daughter of politician Alex Herman and schoolteacher Gloria...

First African-American woman to hold the rank of rear admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 in the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

: Lillian Fishburne
Lillian E. Fishburne
Lillian Elaine Fishburne was the first African-American female to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. She was appointed to the rank of Rear Admiral by President of the United States Bill Clinton and was officially promoted on February 1, 1998...

First African-American Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard is a unique non-commissioned rank in the United States Coast Guard.The holder of this rank and post is the senior enlisted member of the U.S...

: Vincent W. Patton III
Vincent W. Patton III
Vincent W. Patton, III, B.A., B.S., M.A., M.Th., Ed.D. is a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard in the United States.- Career overview :...

First African-American mayor of Houston: Lee P. Brown
Lee P. Brown
Lee Patrick Brown had a long-time career in law enforcement, leading police departments in Atlanta, Houston and New York over the course of nearly four decades. During this time he helped to implement a number of techniques in community policing that appeared to result in substantial decreases in...

First African American to play in the Presidents Cup
Presidents Cup
The Presidents Cup is a series of men's golf matches between a team representing the United States and an International Team representing the rest of the world less Europe. Europe competes against the U.S. in a similar but considerably older event, the Ryder Cup. The Presidents Cup is held biennially...

: Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No...

First African American to win the WWE Championship
WWE Championship
The WWE Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in WWE. It is the world title of the Raw brand and one of two in WWE, complementing the World Heavyweight Championship of the SmackDown brand. It was established under the then WWWF in 1963...

: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
First African American to win the WWE Women's Championship
WWE Women's Championship
The WWE Women's Championship was a professional wrestling championship in the World Wrestling Entertainment promotion. Created in 1956, it was the oldest active professional wrestling championship in World Wrestling Entertainment history until its retirement in 2010 as a result from a unification...

: Jacqueline Moore
Jacqueline Moore
Jacqueline DeLois Moore is an inactive American professional wrestler, who was most recently signed to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling...


  • 1999
First African American to be awarded the International Grandmaster
International Grandmaster
The title Grandmaster is awarded to strong chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain....

 title in chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

: Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley is a chess grandmaster. In the October 2006 rating lists, he had a FIDE rating of 2465, and a USCF rating of 2520 at standard chess, and 2536 at quick chess. Ashley is associated with Chesswise. In 2005 he wrote the book Chess for Success, relating his experiences and the positive...

First African American Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is a unique non-commissioned rank and billet in the United States Marine Corps....

: Alford L. McMichael
Alford L. McMichael
Sergeant Major Alford L. McMichael, USMC, was the 14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps , and was the 1st Senior Non-Commissioned Officer for Allied Command Operations for NATO...

First African-American CEO of a Fortune 500
Fortune 500
The Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks the top 500 U.S. closely held and public corporations as ranked by their gross revenue after adjustments made by Fortune to exclude the impact of excise taxes companies collect. The list includes publicly and...

 company: Franklin Raines
Franklin Raines
Franklin Delano "Frank" Raines is an American business executive. He is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, who served as White House budget director under President Bill Clinton...

 of Fannie Mae

  • 2000
First African American nominated for Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 by a Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

-recognized and federally funded political party: Ezola B. Foster
Ezola B. Foster
Ezola Broussard Foster is an American activist, writer, and politician. She is president of Black Americans for Family Values, authored the book What's Right for All Americans, and was the Reform Party candidate for Vice President in the U.S. presidential election of 2000...

 (See also: 1952; FEC established 1975)

2000s

  • 2001
First African-American Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

: Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

First African-American president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference, it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic...

: Wilton Daniel Gregory
First African-American president of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association , in full the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America, is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist congregations formed by the consolidation in 1961 of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of...

: Rev. William G. Sinkford
William G. Sinkford
The Rev. William G. Sinkford was elected the seventh president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in 2001. Sinkford was elected to his second and final term as president in 2005. His installation as president made him the first African American to lead the organization. He...

First African-American president of an Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 university: Ruth J. Simmons at Brown University
Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...

, also the first permanent female president of Brown.
First African-American woman to win the ASCAP
American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is an American not-for-profit performance-rights organization that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them...

 Pop Music Songwriter of the Year award: Beyoncé Knowles
Beyoncé Knowles
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles , often known simply as Beyoncé, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she enrolled in various performing arts schools and was first exposed to singing and dancing competitions as a child...

First African-American woman to be appointed National Security Advisor
National Security Advisor (United States)
The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor , serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues...

: Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 (See also: 2005)
First African-American billionaire
Black billionaires
According to the 2011 Forbes Billionaire List, Nigeria's Aliko Dangote with a net worth of $13.8 billion is the richest Black person in the world...

: Robert L. Johnson
Robert L. Johnson
Robert L. Johnson is an American business magnate best known for being the founder of television network Black Entertainment Television , and is also its former chairman and chief executive officer...

, founder of Black Entertainment Television
Black Entertainment Television
Black Entertainment Television is an American, Viacom-owned cable network based in Washington, D.C.. Currently viewed in more than 90 million homes worldwide, it is the most prominent television network targeting young Black-American audiences. The network was launched on January 25, 1980, by its...

First African-American female billionaire: Sheila Johnson
Sheila Johnson
Sheila Crump Johnson is the team president, managing partner, and governor of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, a position she gained before the 2005 season. On May 24, 2005, Washington Sports and Entertainment Chairman, Abe Pollin, sold the Mystics to Lincoln Holdings LLC, where Johnson served as...


  • 2002
First African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

: Halle Berry
Halle Berry
Halle Berry is an American actress and a former fashion model. Berry received an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and an NAACP Image Award for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and won an Academy Award for Best Actress and was nominated for a BAFTA Award in 2001 for her performance in Monster's Ball, becoming...

 (Monster's Ball
Monster's Ball
Monster's Ball is a 2001 romantic drama film directed by Marc Forster, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, and Heath Ledger, and written by Milo Addica and Will Rokos. It was produced by Lionsgate and Lee Daniels Entertainment....

, 2001)
First African-American Winter Olympic
Winter Olympic Games
The Winter Olympic Games is a sporting event, which occurs every four years. The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The original sports were alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating...

 gold medal winner: Vonetta Flowers
Vonetta Flowers
Vonetta Flowers is an American bobsledder and athlete. Flowers was a star sprinter and long jumper at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and originally aspired to make the U.S. Summer Olympic Team...

 (two-woman bobsleigh). (See also: Shani Davis, 2006)
First African-American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Services: Captain Vernice Armour
Vernice Armour
Vernice Armour is a former Captain in the United States Marine Corps who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and America's first African American female combat pilot in the United States military...

, USMC
First African American to hold the #1 rank in tennis: Venus Williams
Venus Williams
Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1 and is ranked World No. 101 as of 10 October 2011 in singles and World No. 20 in doubles as of 2011. She has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women's Tennis Association on three separate...

, February 25, 2002.
First African American to hold the year-end #1 rank in tennis: Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player and a former world no. 1. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her world no. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002 and regained this ranking for the fifth time on...

First African American to be named year-end world champion by the International Tennis Federation: Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player and a former world no. 1. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her world no. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002 and regained this ranking for the fifth time on...

First African-American Arena Football League
Arena Football League
The Arena Football League is the highest level of professional indoor American football in the United States. It is currently the second longest running professional football league in the United States, after the National Football League. It was founded in 1987 by Jim Foster...

 head coach to win ArenaBowl
ArenaBowl
The ArenaBowl is the Arena Football League's championship game. From 1987 to 2004, the ArenaBowl was hosted by either the team with the better regular-season record or the higher seeding in the playoffs. From ArenaBowl XIX in 2005 until ArenaBowl XXII in 2008, the game was played at a neutral site...

: Darren Arbet
Darren Arbet
Darren Arbet is an Arena Football League head coach for the San Jose SaberCats. He has a career record of 109-45, including 3 titles, ArenaBowl XVI, ArenaBowl XVIII, and ArenaBowl XXI.-High school years:...

 (San Jose SaberCats
San Jose SaberCats
The San Jose SaberCats are a professional arena football team in the Arena Football League. They began play as a 1995 expansion team. They played in the Western Division of the American Conference. Their final coach in the original Arena Football League was Darren Arbet, who will be a part of the...

), ArenaBowl XVI
ArenaBowl XVI
ArenaBowl XVI was played between the San Jose SaberCats and Arizona Rattlers in San Jose, California on August 18, 2002. A game with considerable expectations given the teams' intense rivalry and respective success that year, the SaberCats surprised everyone by posting the most dominant victory in...

First African-American general manager
General manager
General manager is a descriptive term for certain executives in a business operation. It is also a formal title held by some business executives, most commonly in the hospitality industry.-Generic usage:...

 in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

: Ozzie Newsome
Ozzie Newsome
Ozzie Newsome Jr. and a 1974 graduate of Colbert County High School in Leighton, Alabama, is a former American football tight end for the Cleveland Browns, an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the current General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens.-College career:Before his NFL career,...

 (Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are a professional football franchise based in Baltimore, Maryland.The Baltimore Ravens are officially a quasi-expansion franchise, having originated in 1995 with the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy after Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, announced his...

)

  • 2003
First African American to win a Career Grand Slam
Grand Slam (tennis)
The four Major tennis tournaments, also called the Slams, are the most important tennis events of the year in terms of world tour ranking points, tradition, prize-money awarded, strength and size of player field, and public attention. They are the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and...

 in tennis: Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player and a former world no. 1. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her world no. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002 and regained this ranking for the fifth time on...

 (See also: Althea Gibson, 1956; Arthur Ashe, 1968)

  • 2004
First African American General Manager for World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. is an American publicly traded, privately controlled entertainment company dealing primarily in professional wrestling, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, product licensing, and direct product sales...

: Theodore Long
Theodore Long
Theodore R. "Teddy" Long is an American professional wrestling manager and former referee who currently works for WWE on its SmackDown brand as its General Manager.-National Wrestling Alliance / World Championship Wrestling:...

First African American to win Broadway theater's Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 for Best Actress in a Play: Phylicia Rashād
Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashād is an American Tony Award winning actress and singer, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show....

First African-American NBA
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 general manager to win the NBA Finals
NBA Finals
The NBA Finals is the championship series of the National Basketball Association . The series was named the NBA World Championship Series until 1986....

: Joe Dumars
Joe Dumars
Joe Dumars III , nicknamed Joe D, is a retired American basketball player in the NBA, and currently the Detroit Pistons' President of Basketball Operations....

 (Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are a franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The team's home arena is The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was originally founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne Pistons as a member of the National Basketball League in 1941, where...

), 2004 NBA Finals
First African-American Canadian Football League
Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football League or CFL is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football....

 Head Coach to win the Grey Cup
Grey Cup
The Grey Cup is both the name of the championship of the Canadian Football League and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team. It is Canada's largest annual sports and television event, regularly drawing a Canadian viewing audience of about 3 to 4 million individuals...

: Pinball Clemons
Pinball Clemons
Michael Lutrell "Pinball" Clemons, O.Ont is the current Vice-Chair for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Clemons also played with the Argos for twelve seasons, and twice served as their head coach. His No. 31 jersey is one of only four that has been retired by the Argos...

 (Toronto Argonauts
Toronto Argonauts
The Toronto Argonauts are a professional Canadian football team competing in the East Division of the Canadian Football League. The Toronto, Ontario based team was founded in 1873 and is one of the oldest existing professional sports teams in North America, after the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta...

), 92nd Grey Cup
92nd Grey Cup
The 92nd Grey Cup game took place on November 21, 2004, at Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa, Ontario. The game decided the championship of the 2004 Canadian Football League season...


  • 2005
First African-American woman appointed Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

: Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 (See also: 2001)
First African-American woman U.S. Coast Guard aviator: Jeanine Menze

  • 2006
First African-American individual Winter Olympic
Winter Olympic Games
The Winter Olympic Games is a sporting event, which occurs every four years. The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The original sports were alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating...

 gold medal winner: Shani Davis
Shani Davis
Shani Davis is an Olympic Champion speed skater from the United States.At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Davis became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the Olympic Winter Games . He also won the silver in the 1,500 m...

 (men's 1,000 meter speed skating) (See also: Vonetta Flowers, 2002)
First African-American Extreme Championship Wrestling
Extreme Championship Wrestling
Extreme Championship Wrestling was a professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992 by Tod Gordon and closed when his successor, Paul Heyman, declared bankruptcy in April 2001...

 champion: Bobby Lashley
First African American to command a United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 division: Major General Walter E. Gaskin
Walter E. Gaskin
Lieutenant General Walter E. Gaskin assumed his duties as the Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee, Brussels, Belgium on March 22, 2010.-Marine Corps career:...

First African American to reach the peak of Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

: Sophia Danenberg
Sophia Danenberg
Sophia Danenberg is an American mountain climber best known as the first African American and the first black woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain. She is biracial, with her father black and her mother Japanese.-Mount Everest:At 7 a.m. on May 19, 2006,...


  • 2007
First African-American Governor of Massachusetts
Governor of Massachusetts
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States. The current governor is Democrat Deval Patrick.-Constitutional role:...

: Deval Patrick
Deval Patrick
Deval Laurdine Patrick is the 71st and current Governor of Massachusetts. A member of the Democratic Party, Patrick served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton...

First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 head coaches to reach the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

: Lovie Smith
Lovie Smith
Lovie Lee Smith is the head coach of the Chicago Bears professional football team of the NFL. Smith has been to the Super Bowl twice, as the defensive coordinator for the 2001 Saint Louis Rams and as the head coach for the Chicago Bears in 2006....

 and Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy
Anthony Kevin "Tony" Dungy [DUN-jee] is a former professional American football player and coach in the National Football League. Dungy was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001, and head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008...

, Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI was an American football game that featured the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion Chicago Bears to decide the National Football League champion for the 2006 season...

First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 head coach to win the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

: Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy
Anthony Kevin "Tony" Dungy [DUN-jee] is a former professional American football player and coach in the National Football League. Dungy was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001, and head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008...

 (Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League ....

), Super Bowl XLI
First known African-American woman to reach the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

: Barbara Hillary
First African-American female professional wrestler to win the NWA World Women's Championship
NWA World Women's Championship
The NWA World Women's Championship is the National Wrestling Alliance's women's singles professional wrestling title. It is descended from the original Women's World Championship won by Mildred Burke in 1935 from Clara Mortensen. June Byers was then recognized as the succeeding champion after her...

: Amazing Kong
Kia Stevens
Kia Michelle Stevens , better known by her ring names Amazing Kong, Awesome Kong and Kharma. She is signed with WWE, but has been inactive since May 2011 due to pregnancy...


  • 2008
First African American to be nominated as a major-party U.S. presidential candidate: Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

First African American to referee a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 game: Mike Carey (Super Bowl XLII
Super Bowl XLII
Super Bowl XLII was an American football game on February 3, 2008 that featured the National Football Conference champion New York Giants and the American Football Conference champion New England Patriots to decide the National Football League champion for the 2007 season...

)
First African-American NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 general manager to win the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

: Jerry Reese
Jerry Reese
Jerry Reese is the current General Manager of the New York Giants. He succeeded Ernie Accorsi as general manager on January 16, 2007, having been with the Giants since 1994...

 (New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

), Super Bowl XLII
First African-American woman elected Speaker of a state House of Representatives: California Rep. Karen Bass
Karen Bass
Karen Ruth Bass is the U.S. Representative for . She is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to her election to Congress in 2010, she had served as a member of the California State Assembly representing the 47th district since 2004...

First African-American governor of New York State: David Paterson
David Paterson
David Alexander Paterson is an American politician who served as the 55th Governor of New York, from 2008 to 2010. During his tenure he was the first governor of New York of African American heritage and also the second legally blind governor of any U.S. state after Bob C. Riley, who was Acting...

 (elected as lieutenant governor, succeeded on resignation of previous governor
Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Laurence Spitzer is an American lawyer, former Democratic Party politician, and political commentator. He was the co-host of In the Arena, a talk-show and punditry forum broadcast on CNN until CNN cancelled his show in July of 2011...

)
First African American to own a movie and TV studio: Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry is an American actor, director, playwright, entrepreneur, screenwriter, producer, author, and songwriter. Perry wrote and produced many stage plays during the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2005, he released his first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman...

First African American elected President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

: Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

First African American to be appointed to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 by a state governor: Roland Burris
Roland Burris
Roland Wallace Burris is a former United States Senator from the state of Illinois and a member of the Democratic Party....

First African-American female combat pilot in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

: Major Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell
Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell
Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell is a major in the United States Air Force, and the first female African-American fighter pilot in the history of that service...


  • 2009
First African-American President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

: Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

First African-American First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States is the title of the hostess of the White House. Because this position is traditionally filled by the wife of the president of the United States, the title is most often applied to the wife of a sitting president. The current first lady is Michelle Obama.-Current:The...

: Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

First African-American chair of the Republican National Committee
Republican National Committee
The Republican National Committee is an American political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is...

: Michael Steele (See also: 2002)
First African-American United States Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

: Eric Holder
Eric Holder
Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. is the 82nd and current Attorney General of the United States and the first African American to hold the position, serving under President Barack Obama....

First African-American woman United States Ambassador to the United Nations
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador...

: Susan Rice
First African-American United States Trade Representative: Ron Kirk
Ron Kirk
Ronald "Ron" Kirk is the 16th United States Trade Representative, serving in the Obama administration. He served as mayor of Dallas, Texas from 1995 to 2002; he also ran for the United States Senate in 2002.-Early life and career:...

First African-American woman Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is the head of the United States federal government's Environmental Protection Agency, and is thus responsible for enforcing the nation's Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as well as numerous other environmental statutes. The Administrator is...

: Lisa P. Jackson
Lisa P. Jackson
Lisa Perez Jackson is an American chemical engineer currently serving as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency . Previously, she worked at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for 6 years, first as an assistant commissioner and later as commissioner...

First African-American White House Social Secretary
White House Social Secretary
The White House Social Secretary is responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of official social events at the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States.-Function:...

: Desirée Rogers
Desirée Rogers
Desirée Glapion Rogers is an American business executive who is the Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company. In November 2008 she was selected by Barack Obama's office as the White House Social Secretary for the incoming administration, the first person of African American descent...

First African American to appear by himself on a circulating U.S. coin: Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions...

 (District of Columbia quarter
District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program
The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program was a one-year coin program of the United States Mint that saw quarters being minted in 2009 to honor the District of Columbia and the unincorporated United States insular areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin...

).
First African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for History: Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed is an American historian and law professor noted for changing scholarship on Thomas Jefferson. Gordon-Reed was educated at Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. She is Professor of Law and History at Harvard, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe...

, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family is a 2008 book by American historian Annette Gordon-Reed. It recounts the history of four generations of the African-American Hemings family, from their African and Virginia origins until the 1826 death of Thomas Jefferson, their master, Sally...

First African-American Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr. is the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps major general, and former NASA astronaut....

First African-American woman rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

: Alysa Stanton
Alysa Stanton
Alysa Stanton is an African-American Jew. On June 6, 2009, she was ordained as the first African-American female rabbi. In August 2009 she began work as a rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom, a small majority-white synagogue in Greenville, North Carolina, making her the first African-American rabbi...

First African-American woman CEO of an S&P 100 Company: Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns
Ursula M. Burns serves as chairwoman and CEO of Xerox. She is the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company...

, Xerox Corporation.
First African-American doubles team to be named year-end world champion by the International Tennis Federation: Serena
Serena Williams
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player and a former world no. 1. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her world no. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002 and regained this ranking for the fifth time on...

 and Venus Williams
Venus Williams
Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1 and is ranked World No. 101 as of 10 October 2011 in singles and World No. 20 in doubles as of 2011. She has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women's Tennis Association on three separate...

First African-American to win an Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for an Adapted screenplay (Push by Sapphire) Geoffrey S. Fletcher
Geoffrey S. Fletcher
Geoffrey Shawn Fletcher is an American screenwriter, film director, and adjunct film professor at Columbia University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, New York...

First African-American Disney Princess: Tiana

2010s

  • 2010
First African-American to win the WWE Diva's Championship: Alicia Fox
Victoria Crawford
Victoria Elizabeth Crawford is an American model and professional wrestler best known by her ring name Alicia Fox. She is signed to WWE where she performs on the SmackDown brand....

First African-American Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The SJC has the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.-History:...

: Roderick L. Ireland
Roderick L. Ireland
Roderick L. Ireland was nominated to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts by Governor Deval Patrick on November 4, 2010. Ireland was sworn in as Chief Justice on December 20, 2010. He was previously an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, appointed in 1997 by...


See also


  • List of African-American U.S. state firsts
  • List of African-American United States Cabinet Secretaries
  • List of first African-American mayors
  • List of African-American Golden Globe Award winners and nominees
  • List of African-American Academy Award winners and nominees
  • Timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement

External links