hoodie-tmartin“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Wiiliam Wilberforce

roland hayes

Roland Hayes, the brilliant tenor became the first African-American man to earn international fame as a concert vocalist. In 1942, Mr. Hayes’s wife, Helen and daughter, Afrika, sat in a whites-only area of a shoe store and were thrown out. When Mr. Hayes defended his family, he was beaten and he and his wife were arrested. The incident inspired Langston Hughes to compose the poem, Roland Hayes Beaten.

ethel waters 3

The Beulah Show, the first sitcom to star an African American actress, moved from radio to ABC TV on October 3, 1950, starring Ethel Waters for the first season. Hattie McDaniel, star of radio’s Beulah, joined the cast around September of 1951 but only filmed six episodes of the second season before falling ill. She was quickly replaced by Louise Beavers who stayed with the show until its cancellation in 1952.

heisman trophy 600“I’m not black, I’m O.J.,” a reference to an alleged quote from O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. Simpson was saying, as the story goes, that through fame and fortune he had managed to distance himself from the issues plaguing black men in America: poverty, police brutality, incarceration. I guess he was wrong.

d4b3eb57a695461a39e3801e9491f7c3Florence Griffith Joyner, Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete considered the fastest woman of all time whose world records set in 1988 for both the 100 and 200m still stand. For the Olympic games, Griffith Joyner had six inch nails painted red, white, blue, and gold. There were allegations of steroid use but the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, later stated after her death in 1998, “We performed all possible and imaginable analyses on her. We never found anything. There should not be the slightest suspicion.”


Black history (African-American history) is a story of pain, suffering, and injustice and it is a story of bravery, determination and perseverance. It is the story of people who came to America in chains but have risen to the highest office in the United States; US president.

c1304ccfc00ced2931dfb7e6ab520c91Gail Fisher was the first African-American to get dialogue in a nationally aired commercial, and as Peggy Fair on Mannix, only the second woman of African heritage (after Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek) cast as a regular character in a dramatic hour-long network series, a role for which she won an Emmy Award In 1970. Her barrier-breaking contemporaries were Nichelle Nichols, Greg Morris of Mission: Impossible, Robert Hooks of N.Y.P.D., Don Mitchell of Ironside, and Diahann Carroll of Julia.

Claudia Gordon, the first deaf African American female attorney in the U.S., has been an advocate for people with disabilities since high school. It was her desire to address societal barriers faced by people with disabilities that motivated her to pursue a legal education and career.

Dr. Roger Arliner Young was a scientist of zoology, biology, and marine biology. She was the 1st African-American woman to receive a doctorate degree in zoology.

Edna Lewis (b.1916 – d.2006) was an African-American chef and author best known for her books on traditional Southern cuisine. She was one of eight children. Her cookbooks include The Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972). This was followed by The Taste of Country Cooking in 1976, considered a classic study of Southern cooking. She co-founded the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food, a precursor to the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA). She died in Decatur, Georgia in 2006, aged 89.Edna Lewis (b.1916 – d.2006) was an African-American chef and author best known for her books on traditional Southern cuisine. Her cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking in 1976, is considered a classic study of Southern cooking.

Before the Williams Sisters – Margaret and Matilda Peters, affectionately known as ‘Pete” and Repeat’ made history with their doubles record from the 1930s to the 1950s. Inducted into the USTA’s Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame in 2003.

Sissieretta Jones became the first African American to perform at the Music Hall (renamed Carnegie Hall the following year) in New York City in 1892. She sang both classical opera, light opera and in musical comedies with her own troupe.

Jane M. Bolin was the 1st African American woman graduate of Yale Law School & the first Black female judge in the United States. She was appointed in July 1939 by NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Judge Bolin retired in 1979 after 40 years on the bench.

NYC’s graduation rate was above 70% for the first time in 2016. The white student graduation rate was 88% while the black and hispanic rate was 65%. Only about 50% of students with disabilities graduated.

Evelyn Boyd Granville, mathematician and computer programmer at IBM. In 1949 she became one of the first African American women to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University.

List of African American Firsts on Wikipedia

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