List of African-American Firsts
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List of African-American Firsts

African Americans (also known as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group in the United States. The first achievements by African Americans in various fields have historically marked footholds, often leading to more widespread cultural change. The shorthand phrase for this is "breaking the color barrier".[1][2]

One commonly cited example is that of Jackie Robinson, who became the first African American of the modern era to become a Major League Baseball player in 1947, ending 60 years of segregated Negro Leagues.[3]

18th century

1730s-1770s

1738

  • First free African-American community: Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (later named Fort Mose) in Florida

1746

  • First known African-American (and slave) to compose a work of literature: Lucy Terry with her poem "Bars Fight," composed in 1746[4] and first published in 1855 in Josiah Holland's "History of Western Massachusetts[5][4]

1760

  • First known African-American published author: Jupiter Hammon (poem "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries", published as a broadside)[6]

1767

1768

1773

1775

  • First African American to join the Freemasons: Prince Hall

1778

1780s-1790s

1783

  • First African American to formally practice medicine: James Derham, who did not hold an M.D. degree.[13] (See also: 1847)

1785

1792

1793

1794

19th century

1800s

Absalom Jones
John Gloucester
Absalom Boston
Alexander Twilight
James McCune Smith

1804

1807

1810s

1816

1820s

1821

1822

  • First African-American captain to sail a whaleship with an all-black crew: Absalom Boston[18]

1823

1827

1830s

1832

1836

  • First African American elected to serve in a state legislature: Alexander Twilight, Vermont[19] (See also: 1823)

1837

1840s

1845

1847

1849

1850s

1851

1853

1854

1858

1860s

1861

1862

1863

1864

1865

1866

1868

1869

1870s

1870

1872

1873

1874

1875

1876

1877

1878

1879

1880s

1880

1881

1882

1883

1884

1886

1890s

1890

1891

  • First African-American police officer in present-day New York City: Wiley Overton, hired by the Brooklyn Police Department prior to 1898 incorporation of the five boroughs into the City of New York.[77] (See also: Samuel J. Battle, 1911)

1892

1895

1898

1899

20th century

1900s

1901

1902

  • First African-American professional basketball player: Harry Lew (New England Professional Basketball League)[84] (See also: 1950)
  • First African-American boxing champion, Joe Gans, a lightweight (See also: 1908)

1903

  • First Broadway musical written by African Americans, and the first to star African Americans: In Dahomey
  • First African-American woman to found and become president of a bank: Maggie L. Walker, St. Luke Penny Savings Bank (since 1930 the Consolidated Bank & Trust Company), Richmond, Virginia[85]

1904

  • First Greek-letter fraternal organization established by African Americans: Sigma Pi Phi
  • First African American to participate in the Olympic Games, and first to win a medal: George Poage (two bronze medals)[86]

1906

1907

1908

1910s

1910

1911

1914

1915

1916

1917

1919

1920s

1920

1921

1923

1924

1925

1927

1928

1929

1930s

1931

  • First African-American composer to have their symphony performed by a leading orchestra: William Grant Still, Symphony No. 1, by Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra[119]
  • First African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School: Jane Matilda Bolin

1932

1933

  • First African-American woman to earn a doctorate in psychology: Inez Prosser

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

  • First African American to star in her own television program: Ethel Waters, The Ethel Waters Show, on NBC[130]

1940s

1940

1941

  • First African-American to give a White House Command Performance: Josh White[135]

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

  • First African American to sign a contract with an NFL team in the modern (post-World War II) era: Kenny Washington

1947

1948

1949

1950s

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960s

1960

  • First African-American U.S. presidential candidate: Rev. Clennon King, on the Independent Afro-American party

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970s

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980s

1980

  • First African-American-oriented cable channel: BET[247]
  • First African-American woman to graduate from (and to attend) the U.S. Naval Academy: Janie L. Mines, graduated in 1980[248][249][250]

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990s

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

21st century

2000s

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010s

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020s

2020

  • First African-American to be appointed as a military Chief of Staff and first African-American to lead any branch of the United States Armed Forces: Charles Q. Brown Jr.
  • First African-American president of an NFL team: Jason Wright[304][305]
  • First African-American vice-presidential running mate on a major party ticket, and first African-American vice-president-elect: Kamala Harris[306][307][308]
  • First African-American elected official to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda: John Lewis[309] (See also: 1998, 2005)
  • First African-American NHL play by play broadcaster: Everett Fitzhugh with Seattle Kraken[310]
  • First African-American Catholic cardinal: Wilton Gregory[311]
  • First African-American NHL Assistant General Manager: Brett Petersen with Florida Panthers[312]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ This claim is contested by the First Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia (1774) and the First Colored Baptist Church, renamed First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia (recognized 1788, first congregation 1773).
  2. ^ Because it was published in the U.K., the book is not the first African-American novel published in the United States. This credit goes to one of two disputed books: Harriet Wilson's Our Nig (1859), brought to light by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1982; or Julia C. Collins' The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride (1865), brought to light by William L. Andrews, an English literature professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Mitch Kachun, a history professor at Western Michigan University, in 2006. Andrews and Kachun document Our Nig as a novelized autobiography, and argue that The Curse of Caste is the first fully fictional novel by an African American to be published in the U.S.
  3. ^ Founded earlier; not fully owned and operated by African Americans until 1863
  4. ^ Revels, the Mississippi State Senate's Adams County representative, was elected by the U.S. Senate in January 1870 to fill an unexpired term.
  5. ^ Rainey, a South Carolina state senator, was elected to fill the seat vacated by B. Franklin Whittemore. Rainey took his seat on December 12, 1870. John Willis Menard was actually the first African American elected to the House (1868) but he was denied his seat.
  6. ^ Douglass did not seek the nomination or campaign after being nominated.
  7. ^ Parker graduated from Mount Holyoke when it was still a seminary.
  8. ^ This was previously thought to be Sarah E. Goode (for the cabinet bed, Chicago, Illinois).[68]
  9. ^ His son, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., was the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
  10. ^ 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).
  11. ^ L. Clifford Davis applied to the law school in 1946, and after several failed attempts was granted admission in September 1947, but was unable to enroll in classes. Hunt later enrolled on February 2, 1948.[156]
  12. ^ While considered a network for regulatory reasons, CBS TV was viewable only locally in 1948. By 1956, CBS and other networks were viewable nationwide.
  13. ^ Clifton was the first to sign an NBA contract and subsequently play, Cooper was the first to be drafted by an NBA team, and Lloyd was the first to play in an NBA regular-season game because his team's opening game was one day before the others.
  14. ^ At that time, nominations were announced in November of the year of release, instead of early the following year.
  15. ^ While two black players won Gold Gloves that year, only Mays is African-American. The other, Minnie Miñoso, is Afro-Cuban.
  16. ^ In 1998, the award would be renamed the Oscar Robertson Trophy after its first recipient.
  17. ^ Harris' milestone came a year after Marlon Green, who had been rejected as a Continental Airlines applicant in 1957, won the United States Supreme Court case "Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission v. Continental Airlines, Inc. 372 U.S. 714 no. 146" which found Green had been unlawfully discriminated against.[215]
  18. ^ a b c The first Black superhero, Marvel's Black Panther, introduced in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966), is African, not African-American. This is also true of the first Black character to star in his own mainstream comic-book feature, Waku, Prince of the Bantu, who headlined one of four features in the multiple-character omnibus series Jungle Tales (September 1954 - September 1955), from Marvel's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics.
  19. ^ At the time, the NCAA had not yet adopted its three-division system. Illinois State was in the NCAA University Division, which became Division I in 1973. The NCAA retroactively considers University Division members to have been Division I members.
  20. ^ Although Flood's legal challenge was unsuccessful, it brought about additional solidarity among players as they fought against baseball's reserve clause and sought free agency.
  21. ^ The NHL had fielded black players for more than 20 years, with the first being Willie O'Ree in 1958, but all previous black players were Black Canadians and not African-Americans. In 1996, Mike Grier (Edmonton Oilers) became the first to have been both born and exclusively trained in the U.S., per Allen, Kevin (January 14, 2008). "Willie O'Ree still blazing way in NHL 50 years later". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved 2014.
  22. ^ Cosmonaut Arnaldo Mendez was the first person of African descent in space, in 1980.
  23. ^ Lewis Hamilton became the first black Formula One racer in 2006, but he is a British citizen of Grenadan ancestry, and not an African-American. Ribbs did not compete in a race, but drove a Formula One car professionally in January 1986 as a tester for the Brabham-BMW at Estoril, Portugal.
  24. ^ a b c Woods' mixed ancestry - ¼ Chinese, ¼ Thai, ¼ African-American, 1/8 white, and 1/8 Native American - also makes him the first Asian-American to achieve this feat. He is also the first of only four golfers of primarily non-European descent to win a men's major, with the others being Vijay Singh (an Indian Fijian), Michael Campbell (a M?ori from New Zealand), and Y.E. Yang (South Korean).
  25. ^ Announced as Bobcats owner in December 2002, although team did not begin play until 2004.
  26. ^ Smith and Dungy both reached this milestone on the same day, although Smith was technically the first due solely to scheduling. The NFC and AFC Championship Games are always held on the same day. In the playoffs that followed the 2006 NFL season, the NFC game was played first.

References

Footnotes

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  3. ^ Sailes, Gary Alan (1998). "Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Barrier in Team Sports". African Americans in Sport: Contemporary Themes, Transaction Publishers. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7658-0440-2
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  8. ^ He was of mixed race, one-quarter African and three-quarters European, and listed in the US Census as white.
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Bibliography

External links


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