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African Americans are a demographic minority in the United States. The first achievements by African Americans in various fields historically marked footholds, often marking 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 was the first African American of the modern era to become a Major League Baseball player, ending 60 years of segregated Negro Leagues. [3 ]
18th century [ edit ]
1730s-1770s [ edit ]
First known African-American published author:
Jupiter Hammon (poem "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries", published as a broadside) [4 ]
1780s-1790s [ edit ]
First African American to formally practice medicine in the U.S.:
James Derham, who did not hold an M.D. degree (See also: 1847) [10 ]
19th century [ edit ]
First African-American captain to sail a whaleship with an all-black crew:
Absalom Boston [13 ]
First African American elected to public office and to serve in a state legislature:
Alexander Twilight, Vermont (See also: 1823) [14 ]
First African American licensed to practice law in the U.S.:
Macon Allen from the Boston bar [16 ]
First African-American president of a major college/university: Father
Patrick Francis Healy, S.J. of Georgetown College. (See also: 1851, 1863, 1866) [20 ]
First African-American police officer in Boston, Massachusetts: Sergeant Horatio Julius Homer.
First African American to graduate from a formal nursing school:
Mary Eliza Mahoney, Boston, Massachusetts. [49 ]
20th century [ edit ]
First African-American professional
basketball player: Harry Lew (New England Professional Basketball League) (See also: 1950) [63 ] First African-American boxing champion,
Joe Gans a lightweight
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 [64 ]
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) [65 ]
First African-American composer to have symphony performed by leading orchestra:
William Grant Still, Symphony No. 1, by Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra First African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School:
Jane Matilda Bolin
First African American to star in her own television program:
Ethel Waters, The Ethel Waters Show, on NBC [92 ]
First African American to give a White House Command Performance:
Josh White [96 ]
Martin A. Martin, first African American to become a member of the Trial Bureau of the
United States Department of Justice, was sworn in on May 31, 1943. [98 ] First African-American artists to have a #1 hit on the
charts: Billboard Mills Brothers (" Paper Doll"), topped "Best Sellers in Stores" chart on November 6 (See also: Tommy Edwards, 1958; The Platters, 1959)
First African American to win a
Tony Award: Juanita Hall ( Best Featured Actress in a Musical, ) South Pacific [119 ] First African American to win
Pulitzer Prize: Gwendolyn Brooks (Book of poetry, Annie Allen, 1949) [120 ] First African American to win
Nobel Peace Prize: Ralph Bunche [121 ] First African American appointed as federal judge: William Henry Hastie, appointed "during good behavior" to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
[122 ] First African-American woman to compete on the world tennis tour:
Althea Gibson [123 ] First African-American solo singer to have a #1 hit on the
charts: Billboard Nat King Cole (" Mona Lisa"), 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 delegate to the
United Nations: Edith S. Sampson (See also: 1961) [124 ] First African-American
NBA basketball players: Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton ( New York Knicks), Chuck Cooper ( Boston Celtics), and Earl Lloyd ( Washington Capitols). Note: [125 ] Harold Hunter was the first to sign an NBA contract, signing with the Washington Capitols on April 26, 1950. [126 ] However, he was cut from the team during training camp and did not play professionally. [127 ] [128 ] (See also: 1902) [Note 12 ]
First African-American U.S. presidential candidate: Rev.
Clennon King, on the Independent Afro-American party First African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South:
First African-American bank examiner for the
United States Department of the Treasury: Roland Burris First African American named as
Time magazine's Man of the Year: Martin Luther King, Jr. [152 ] First African-American police officer of the NYPD to be named a precinct commander:
Lloyd Sealy, commander of the NYPD's 28th Precinct in Harlem. [153 ] First African American to be named
American League MVP: Elston Howard ( New York Yankees) (See also: Jackie Robinson, 1949) First African-American
chess master: Walter Harris [154 ] [155 ] First African American to appear as a series regular on a prime time dramatic television series:
Cicely Tyson, "East Side/West Side" ( CBS). First African-American to be nominated for a
Primetime Emmy Award: Diahann Carroll, for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role, for episode "A Horse Has a Big Head, Let Him Worry" of Naked City First African Americans inducted to the
Basketball Hall of Fame: New York Renaissance, 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. First African American to win a
NASCAR Grand National event: Wendell Scott. See also 2015.
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 ( Democratic Party, New Jersey primary) (See also: 1968) First African-American
superhero to star in own comic-book series: Luke Cage, Marvel Comics' Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972). [166 ] (See also: Lobo, 1965, and the Falcon, 1969) [Note 17 ] First African-American
National Basketball Association general manager: Wayne Embry First African-American interracial romantic kiss in a mainstream comics magazine: "The Men Who Called Him Monster", by writer
Don McGregor (See also: 1975) and artist Luis Garcia, in Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics magazine #43 (Jan. 1972) (See also: 1975) Creepy [167 ] First African-American interracial male kiss on network television:
Sammy Davis, Jr. (African American) and Carroll O'Connor (Caucasian) in All in the Family [168 ] First African American inducted to the
Basketball Hall of Fame: Team-owner and coach Bob Douglas, in the category of "contributor" (See also: New York Renaissance, 1963; player Bill Russell, 1975; coach Clarence Gaines, 1982) First African-American woman
Broadway director: Vinnette Justine Carroll ( ) Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope First African-American comic-book creator to receive a "created by" cover-credit:
Wayne Howard ( #1) Midnight Tales
First African American elected mayor, and first mayor, of
Washington, D.C.: Walter Washington First African-American
game show host: Adam Wade ( CBS' ) Musical Chairs First African-American
four-star general: Daniel James, Jr. First African American inducted to the
Basketball Hall of Fame as a player: Bill Russell (See also: New York Renaissance, 1963; Bob Douglas, 1972; Clarence Gaines, 1982) First African-American interracial couple in a TV-series cast:
, actors The Jeffersons Franklin Cover (Caucasian) and Roxie Roker (African American) as Tom & Helen Willis; series creator: Norman Lear First African-American interracial romantic kiss in a color comic book:
#31 (July 1975), feature " Amazing Adventures Killraven: Warrior of the Worlds", characters M'Shulla Scott and Carmilla Frost, by writer Don McGregor and artist P. Craig Russell (See also: 1972) First African-American manager in
Major League Baseball: Frank Robinson ( Cleveland Indians) First African-American model on the cover of
magazine: Beverly Johnson Elle First African-American
psychologist in the U.S. Navy: John D. Robinson First African American to play in a
men's major golf championship: Lee Elder ( The Masters) First African American to be named
Super Bowl MVP in NFL: Franco Harris ( Pittsburgh Steelers). Of mixed heritage, Harris was also first Italian American to win the award. First African-American women named as
magazine's, Time Person of the Year: Barbara Jordan and Addie L. Wyatt [169 ]
First African-American woman elected officer of international labor union:
Addie L. Wyatt First African American appointed as a judge in Federal District Court in Virginia: Robert H. Cooley III (1939-1998), appointed to the Eastern District
First African-American broadcast network news anchor:
21st century [ edit ]
First African American to win a Career
Grand Slam in tennis: Serena Williams (See also: Althea Gibson, 1956; Arthur Ashe, 1968)
See also [ edit ]
^ 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 (1777).
^ 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.
^ Founded earlier; not fully owned and operated by African Americans until 1863
^ Revels, the Mississippi State Senate's Adams County representative, was elected by the U.S. Senate in January 1870 to fill an unexpired term.
^ 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.
^ Douglass did not seek the nomination or campaign after being nominated.
^ Parker graduated from Mount Holyoke when it was still a seminary.
^ This was previously thought to be Sarah E. Goode (for the cabinet bed, Chicago, Illinois). [54 ]
^ His son, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., was the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
^ 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).
^ 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. [111 ]
^ 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.
^ At that time, nominations were announced in November of the year of release, instead of early the following year.
^ While two black players won Gold Gloves that year, only Mays is African-American. The other, Minnie Miñoso, is Afro-Cuban.
^ In 1998, the award would be renamed the Oscar Robertson Trophy after its first recipient.
^ 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. [157 ]
^ a b c The first Black superhero, Marvel's Black Panther, introduced in #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 Fantastic Four (Sept. 1954 – Sept. 1955), from Marvel's 1950s predecessor, Jungle Tales Atlas Comics.
^ 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.
^ 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 . Retrieved . June 23, 2014
^ Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Mendez was the first person of African descent in space, in 1980.
^ 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.
^ Announced as Bobcats owner in December 2002, although team did not begin play until 2004.
^ 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.
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Bibliography [ edit ]
External links [ edit ]