Black Firsts

Agbani Darego became the first native African to be crowned Miss World on this day in 2001. While other African nation-based models have won the coveted title, the women were not of African descent. Ms. Darego was born December 22, 1983 in Lagos State, Nigeria, as one of eight children. After the passing of her […]

Gwen Ifill was a pioneering Black journalist, providing a role model for young Blacks aspiring to media careers, especially women. Ms. Ifill succumbed to her battle with cancer Monday at the age of 61, prompting a nation to mourn one of its most respected journalists. Ifill was born September 29, 1955 in New York City […]

When Zena Stephens officially swears in at the Jackson County Sheriff in Texas, she will become the first Black woman elected to the role in state history. Stephens beat out a Republican rival in a tight race, and expects there will be tough challenges ahead. Little information on Stephens’ personal life exists online but what […]

On this day in 1960, history was made when Andrew Hatcher was named the associate press secretary by President John F. Kennedy. Hatcher was also a founding member of 100 Black Men of America. Mr. Hatcher was born June 19, 1923 in Princeton, N.J. As a student at Massachusetts’ Springfield College in the early ’40’s, Hatcher interrupted […]

The phrase “Black is Beautiful” has long been associated with the civil rights and Black power movements but it has roots that reach even further back. John Stewart Rock, one of the America’s first Black doctors and lawyers, is said to have coined the phrase in one of his speeches as an abolitionist. Rock was […]

Lee Roy Young Jr. grew up in Texas hoping to join the elite Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Young’s boyhood dream came true on this day in 1988 when he was sworn in as a Texas Ranger. Young was born January 8, 1947 in Del Rio, Texas. Raised by his grandparents […]

Guion “Guy” Bluford made his dreams of flying among the stars a reality on this day in 1983, becoming the first African-American astronaut in space. Bluford logged well over 600 hours in space before retiring, and still managed to accomplish goals even beyond his historic achievement. Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. was born November 22, 1942 […]

Malvin R. Goode was a pioneer in broadcast journalism, becoming the first African-American news correspondent for a major television network on this day in 1962. Goode arrived at the pinnacle of his career later in life, but his accomplishment serves as a testament to the work ethic he developed in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. […]

Nick Gabaldon has been recognized by California’s surf historians as the first surfer of color to emerge from the tight-knit community. Gabaldon has been hailed for breaking barriers in the sport, and serves as an inspiration for other Black and Latino surfers around the world. Nicolás Rolando Gabaldón was born February 23, 1927 in Los […]

Mark C. Alexander, a longtime legal professor and scholar, was named the dean of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law last Friday. The position makes Alexander the first African-American to hold a post at the prestigious law school. Alexander, 51, is known in the law community as an expert of the First Amendment, penning […]

Emmett Ashford broke a significant color barrier in Major League Baseball by becoming the league’s first Black umpire 50 years ago this week. Ashford was…

Dr. Homer E. Harris Jr. made history twice – as the first Black football captain of his high school team in Seattle, Washington, and later…