Obama and Other African American Firsts

Regardless of your political affiliation last night Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American (and first minority for that matter) to be elected to the nations highest office. We’ve shown you the best picture of Obama ever and and shown you video of some crazy preacher talking about the President Elect. Today we are going to class it up a bit…

To celebrate Barry’s historical achievement (and with a little help from www.infoplease.com, here are several other notable African American Firsts:

Government
Local elected official: John Mercer Langston, 1855, town clerk of Brownhelm Township, Ohio.
State elected official: Alexander Lucius Twilight, 1836, the Vermont legislature.
Mayor of major city: Carl Stokes, Cleveland, Ohio, 1967-1971. The first black woman to serve as a mayor of a major U.S. city was Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly, Washington, DC, 1991-1995.
Governor (appointed): P.B.S. Pinchback served as governor of Louisiana from Dec. 9, 1872-Jan. 13, 1873, during impeachment proceedings against the elected governor.
Governor (elected): L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia, 1990-1994. The only other elected black governor has been Deval Patrick, Massachusetts, 2007-
U.S. Representative: Joseph Rainey became a Congressman from South Carolina in 1870 and was reelected four more times. The first black female U.S. Representative was Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York, 1969-1983.
U.S. Senator: Hiram Revels became Senator from Mississippi from Feb. 25, 1870, to March 4, 1871, during Reconstruction. Edward Brooke became the first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, 1966-1979. Carol Mosely Braun became the first black woman Senator serving from 1992-1998 for the state of Illinois. (There have only been a total of five black senators in U.S. history: the remaining two are Blanche K. Bruce [1875-1881] and Barack Obama (2005- ).
U.S. cabinet member: Robert C. Weaver, 1966-1968, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Lyndon Johnson; the first black female cabinet minister was Patricia Harris, 1977, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Jimmy Carter.
U.S. Secretary of State: Gen. Colin Powell, 2001-2004. The first black female Secretary of State was Condoleezza Rice, 2005-.

Law
Federal Judge: William Henry Hastie, 1946; Constance Baker Motley became the first black woman federal judge, 1966.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall, 1967-1991. Clarence Thomas became the second African American to serve on the Court in 1991.
African-American Firsts: Scholarship
College graduate (B.A.): Alexander Lucius Twilight, 1823, Middlebury College; first black woman to receive a B.A. degree: Mary Jane Patterson, 1862, Oberlin College.
Ph.D.: Edward A. Bouchet, 1876, received a Ph.D. from Yale University. In 1921, three individuals became the first U.S. black women to earn Ph.D.s: Georgiana Simpson, University of Chicago; Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, University of Pennsylvania; and Eva Beatrice Dykes, Radcliffe College.
Rhodes Scholar: Alain L. Locke, 1907.
College president: Daniel A. Payne, 1856, Wilberforce University, Ohio.
Ive League President: Ruth Simmons, 2001, Brown University.

Music, TV and Film
Male Grammy Award winner: Count Basie, 1958.
Female Grammy Award winner: Ella Fitzgerald, 1958.
First Oscar: Hattie McDaniel, 1940, supporting actress, Gone with the Wind.
Oscar, Best Actor/Actress: Sidney Poitier, 1963, Lilies of the Field; Halle Berry, 2001, Monster’s Ball.
Oscar, Best Actress Nominee: Dorothy Dandridge, 1954, Carmen Jones.
Network television show host: Nat King Cole, 1956, “The Nat King Cole Show”; Oprah Winfrey became the first black woman television host in 1986, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Star of a network television show: Bill Cosby, 1965, “I Spy”.

Sports
Major league baseball player: Jackie Robinson, 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jackie Robinson, 1962.
NFL quarterback: Willie Thrower, 1953.
NFL football coach: Fritz Pollard, 1922-1937.
Golf champion: Tiger Woods, 1997, won the Masters golf tournament.
NHL hockey player: Willie O’Ree, 1958, Boston Bruins.1
Heavyweight boxing champion: Jack Johnson, 1908.

Other African-American Firsts
Licensed Pilot: Bessie Coleman, 1921.
Millionaire: Madame C. J. Walker.
Billionaire: Robert Johnson, 2001, owner of Black Entertainment Television; Oprah Winfrey, 2003.
Portrayal on a postage stamp: Booker T. Washington, 1940 (and also 1956).
Miss America: Vanessa Williams, 1984, representing New York. When controversial photos surfaced and Williams resigned, Suzette Charles, the runner-up and also an African American, assumed the title. She represented New Jersey. Three additional African Americans have been Miss Americas: Debbye Turner (1990), Marjorie Vincent (1991), and Kimberly Aiken (1994).
Explorer, North Pole: Matthew A. Henson, 1909, accompanied Robert E. Peary on the first successful U.S. expedition to the North Pole.
Explorer, South Pole: George Gibbs, 1939-1941 accompanied Richard Byrd.
Flight around the world: Barrington Irving, 2007, from Miami Gardens, Florida, flew a Columbia 400 plane named Inspiration around the world in 96 days, 150 hours (March 23-June 27).
First astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., 1967, was the first black astronaut, but he died in a plane crash during a training flight and never made it into space. Guion Bluford, 1983, became the first black astronaut to travel in space; Mae Jemison, 1992, became the first black female astronaut. Frederick D. Gregory, 1998, was the first African-American shuttle commander.

3 thoughts on “Obama and Other African American Firsts

  1. Hi Corey,
    Thanks for this informative blog. I ‘digg’ it. Just wanted to tell you how much things like this are appreciated. With the across-the-board voting of the American people, it is my hope that we blur the lines which have separated us for so long. There should have been no need for Black History Month, Ms Black America, etc. That was born out of the need for us to recognize our own achievements and establish our own standards of beauty. The sacrifices of the ancestors, activists and pioneers have borne beautiful fruit. Now we can all take strive toward fulfillment of our potential as citizens…and feel the same pride as all of our other American brethren.

    Most Sincerely,
    Lorna Rainey
    (great-granddaughter of the Hon. Joseph H. Rainey, America’s first Black Congressman)

  2. Pingback: Presidential Firsts | Buzz Pirates

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