Black Firsts

Jackie Robinson’s historic barrier-breaking feat celebrated its 70th anniversary last week, but a pair of forgotten Black baseball players might have some right to Number 42’s historic claim. William Edward White and Moses Fleetwood Walker are credited as players who integrated the MLB many years before Robinson. Very little is known about White but what […]

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour made history as the first Black woman aviator for the U.S. Marines, and also became the first Black woman combat pilot across the U.S. Armed Forces. Today, Armour is a motivational speaker and author and one of the faces of a new campaign aimed at recognizing the contributions of women. Armour was […]

While Elvis Presley became the face of Rock ‘N’ Roll, the true genius behind the art form was Chuck Berry. Berry passed in his home last Saturday at the age of 90, leaving behind a legendary influence that stretched far beyond rock music. Berry was born October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Mo. The future […]

Paul Williams was a pioneering architect who achieved several historical firsts en route to his way to becoming home designer to the stars. Along with designing homes for Southern California’s elite, Williams also designed the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Los Angeles’ Saks Fifth Avenue, among other top designs. Williams was born February 1, 1894, […]

  Hallie Quinn Brown was an educator, author, and prominent moment of the women’s suffrage in the early 20th Century. Ms. Brown was also a notable orator and author, publishing a book focusing on the achievements of Black women of her era. Brown was born on this day in 1849 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her parents, […]

Captain Stephanie Johnson is the first Black female captain for Delta Airlines, the second of her historic achievements as a pilot. Twenty years ago, Captain Johnson became the first Black female pilot for Northwest Airlines and last year, Delta promoted her to her current post. The Kent State University graduate caught the flying bug in […]

In its 130-year history, the prestigious Harvard Law Review has never elected a Black woman to serve as president – until now. ImeIme Umana, a Pennsylvania native and daughter of Nigerian immigrants was elected to the post on Jan. 29 of this year. Umana, 24, was raised in the town of State College. Her late […]

Kim Royster had dreams of becoming a professional singer after leaving her small North Carolina town and heading to New York. While her artistic aims fell through, Royster has earned several achievements as a member of the New York Police Department and is the highest-ranked Black female officer on the force. This week, Assistant Chief […]

The overwhelming success of the film Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, highlighted three African-American women who were instrumental in propelling the U.S. space program. The state of Arkansas has a hidden figure of its own in Raye Montague, who is the first person to design a U.S. Navy ship using a computer. Montague was […]

Oscar Holmes broke three color barriers in his lifetime, although he never set out to become a pioneer. Holmes was not only the first Black air traffic controller, he was also the U.S. Navy’s first Black commissioned officer and the military branch’s first Black pilot. Holmes was born January 31, 1916 in Dunbar. W. Va. […]

On this day in 1978, NASA graduated its first group of Space Shuttle astronauts which signaled a new day for the space program. Among the group of 35, three Black men went on to leave their mark on history as explorers of space. Maj. Frederick D. Gregory of Washington, Col. Guion Bluford of Pennsylvania, and […]

June Bacon-Bercey is a pioneer in the field of meteorology, becoming the first Black woman to earn a degree in the science in the ’50’s. She is also an internationally recognized expert in aviation and weather, and is the first woman and African-American woman to win the American Meteorological Society’s “seal of approval” honor for […]