Edgar Cunningham

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Edgar V. Cunningham, Sr. (December 11, 1910 – February 27, 1980) was an early youth member of the Boy Scouts of America who is believed to be the first African American Eagle Scout.


Cunningham was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and was a member of Troop 12 in Waterloo, Iowa in what was then Wapsipinicon Area Council.[1]

Scouting career[edit]

Troop 12 was a "colored troop" formed in 1925 during the period when Scout units were segregated and, with Troop 9, was one of the two colored troops in Waterloo formed by James Lincoln Page. Cunningham was the first Scout in either of the Waterloo colored troops to earn Eagle Scout on June 8, 1926.

Letter from US President Coolidge[edit]

He received a hand-written letter from President Calvin Coolidge acknowledging him as the first black Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster Page received a presidential citation.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Cunningham married Susie Ann Rockett on September 14, 1931, in Galena, Illinois. They had five children, eighteen grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren.


After Cunningham died in 1980, the Winnebago Council (the successor to the Wapsipinicon Area Council) made inquiries to the National Council of the BSA to determine if he was indeed the first black Eagle Scout. Since Cunningham had earned Eagle Scout fourteen years after the first Eagle Scout was awarded and National did not track ethnicity, there has been no way to validate the claim.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eagle Scouts". West Texas Scouting History. Retrieved 29 September 2006. 
  2. ^ Pat Kinney (March 19, 2007). "Scout leader's valor remembered". WCFcourier.com. Retrieved April 12, 2007.