There have been many first achievements by African Americans. Many of these achievements have been poorly recognized, and often very little information provided on the subject. Here are 9 famous African American firsts that are important to the history of the United States, from the Armed Forces to the Supreme Court.
1. Howard P. Perry
Howard P. Perry was the first African American to enlist in the Marines.
2. Captain Della H. Raney
Captain Della H. Raney was the first black nurse to report to duty in World War II.
3. Matice Wright
Matice Wright was the Navy’s first black female naval flight officer.
4. Sharon Pratt
Sharon Pratt was the first black woman to serve as a mayor of a major U.S. city.
5. Carol Mosely Braun
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.
6. Condoleeza Rice
The first black female Secretary of State was Condoleezza Rice, 2005–2009.
7. Constance Baker Motley
Constance Baker Motley became the first black woman federal judge in 1966. In 1950, as the writer of the original complaint for Brown vs. Board of Education, she was the first African-American woman ever to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
8. Eugene Jacques Bullard
Eugene Jacques Bullard, 1917, was denied entry into the U.S. Army Air Corps because of his race. He served throughout World War I in the French Flying Corps, and received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor, among many other decorations.
9. Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm was the first black female U.S. Representative. She was a Congresswoman from New York, 1969–1983.