Significant African American Firsts

Significant African American Firsts


Extrordinary People in black History

Black American History

    Who was the first African American in Space?

    Guion S. Bluford Jr.

    Bluford, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. He launched into space on August 30, 1983, aboard the Challenger, on the Space Shuttle's third mission. He served on three more NASA missions and logged over 688 hours in space before leaving NASA in July 1993.

    Who was the first African American Astronaut?

    Robert H. Lawrence Jr.

    He became an astronaut on June 10, 1967. Tragically, Lawrence never made it into space. A short time later, he was killed when his plane crashed during a training flight.

    Who was the first African American to walk in space?

    Bernard A. Harris Jr.

    Who was the first African American woman in space?

    Mae C. Jemison

    Who was the First African American Space Shuttle Commander

    Frederick D. Gregory

    Who was the first African American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor?

    Sergeant William H. Carney, He received the medal for bravery under fire in 1863, and was cited for gallantry in the charge of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers on Fort Wagner in the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor on July 18, 1863.  From the Spanish American War to the Korean War. Blacks were denied Congressional Medals of Honor because of their race.

    Who was the first African American awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor after the Spanish American War?

    Pfc. William Thompson of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was cited posthumously on June 21, 1951 for heroism during the Korean War.

    Who was he first African American graduate of the West Point Military Academy?

    Henry O. Flipper of Georgia, who was admitted on July 1, 1873 and graduated on June 15, 1877.

    Who was the first African American student at West Point?

    James W. Smith of South Carolina, who was admitted on July 1, 1870.  He left the Academy on June 26, 1874 without receiving a degree.

    Who was the first African American graduate of the Annapolis Naval Academy?

    Wesley A. Brown, who received his degree on June 3, 1949. The first African American student at Annapolis was John Henry Conyers of South Carolina but he did not graduate.  He was admitted on September 21, 1872.

    What is the significance of the quote, "We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us."

    This was written by Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm on the front page of Freedom's Journal, the first African American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. The Journal was published weekly in New York City from 1827 to 1829. John B. Russworm edited the journal alone between March 16, 1827 and March 28, 1829. Later, Samuel Cornish served as co-editor (March 16, 1827 to September 14, 1827). Freedom's Journal was superseded by The Rights of All, published between 1829 and 1830 by S. E. Cornish.

    What national college fraternity for African Americans was founded in Ithaca, N.Y. by seven Cornell students and when?

    Alpha Phi Alpha in 1906.

    What years were the first bachelor degrees awarded to African American Cornell students?

    1897 and 1898

    Who was the first African American team member for the U.S. Davis Cup Team?

    Arthur Ashe in 1963

    Who was America's first African American National Cyclist Champion?

    Marshall Walter Taylor, "Major Taylor", was the first internationally known African American athlete. In Montreal, Taylor, who was then 19, became only the second African American athlete to win a world championship in any sport by winning the 1-mile sprint title. He dominated in the U.S., and then went to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, defeating the best cyclists Europe had to offer. Taylor was also the 1-mile record holder, and three time U.S. sprint champion (1898, 1899, and 1900). In 1996, USA Cycling posthumously awarded Taylor the Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award. And, in Indianapolis, where Taylor's love affair with cycling began, the city's velodrome was named for him. By 1898, Marshal had accumulated enough total points -- 121, with 21 first place victories -- to become America's first African American National Cyclist Champion.

    Who was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and the first jockey to be inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1955?

    Issac Murphy, Most famous of the black jockeys by far is Isaac Murphy who is considered one of the greatest riders in American history. His jockey career was from 1876-1895. He was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and won an astonishing 44% of all races he rode. That record has not been approached by any other jockey since. He was the first jockey to be inducted into the Jockey Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing. Isaac Murphy was known as "the most phenomenal hand jockey the world had yet seen."

    Who was the first African American "All-American"?

    William Henry Lewis, the first African American "All-American," was from Berkeley, Virginia. He played football in the center position at Amherst College in 1889. Fritz Pollard ended out his career as one of the first African Americans in the newly formed American Professional Association which decided to become the National Football League (NFL) in 1921.

    Who was The first Black general?

    General Benjamin O. Davis Sr.,  the Tuskegee Airmen leader was appointed on October 16, 1940. The first Black general in the U.S. Air Force and the second Black general was Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the son of the first Black general, who was appointed on October 27, 1954.  He was also the first African American to head an armed forces base in the United States being named commander of Godman Field (Ky.) on June 21, 1945. He retired in 1970 with the rank of Lieutenant General.

    Who was first Black to command a U.S. Army division?

    Major General Frederic E. Davidson, who assumed command of the Eighth Infantry Division in Germany on April 19, 1972.

    The first African American four-star general was Daniel (Chappie) James, who was promoted to that rank and named Commander-in-Chief of the North American Air Defense Command on September 1, 1975.

    The first African American Admiral in the U.S. Navy was Samuel Lee Gravely Jr., who was appointed on April 28, 1971.

    Who was the first African American general in the United States Marine Corps?

    General Frank E. Peterson. who achieved the rank on February 23, 1979.

    Who was the The first African American Merchant Marine Naval Officer To Command an Integrated Crew during war time?

    In 1942, against overwhelming odds, Captain Hugh Mulzac became the first African American merchant marine naval officer to command an integrated crew during World War II.

    More to follow...

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