The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), founded by Richard Allen became the first national black church in the United States in 1816.
Thomas L. Jennings was the first African-American to receive a patent in 1821. It was for a dry-cleaning process in 1821. He used the money earned from the patent to purchase relatives out of slavery and support abolitionist causes.
Alexander Lucius Twilight was the first African American to receive a college degree from Middlebury College in 1823
Lincoln University is the oldest Historically Black University in the US, and was founded in 1854
Edmonia Lewis was the first professional African-American sculptor (1864), often sculpting courageous and inspirational people such as Cleopatra, Phillis Wheatley, President Ulysses S. Grant, etc.
Rebecca Cole, born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, was the second Black woman to graduate from medical school in 1867
Richard Theodore Greener, was the first African-American graduate from Harvard in 1870. He started out at Oberlin College, the first American college to admit African-Americans and went on to become a lawyer.
Henry Ossian Flipper was the first African-American to graduate from West Point academy in 1877 and became the first black commander when he was assigned to the 10th Cavalry, a Buffalo Soldier regiment.
Sophia Tucker and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College used just 100.00 to found the Historically Black College in 1881.
Judy W. Reed was the first African-American woman to receive a patent in 1884 for a hand-operated machine used to knead and roll dough.
W.E.B. Du Bois became the first African American to earn a PH.D. from Harvard in 1895
Madame C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) invented specialized hair products for African-American hair (starting in 1905) and became the first American woman to become a millionaire.
Earnest Just was the only person (and he happened to be Black) to graduate magna cum laude in the graduating class of 1907 from Dartmouth College
Matthew Henson was a part of the first successful U.S. expedition to the North Pole in 1909.
Charles Henry Turner, a zoologist and educator, was the first person to discover that insects can hear (1914).
Black Swan Records, founded in 1921 by Harry Pace in Harlem, was the first U.S. record label owned and operated by African-Americans. It was originally the Pace Phonograph Corporation and was renamed Black Swan Records after the 19th century opera singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, who was known as the Black Swan
Bessie Coleman became the first licensed African-American pilot in the world in 1921. She received aviation instruction in France.
Elbert Frank Cox became the first Black to old a doctorate degree in mathematics, which he received from Cornell University in Ithaca NY in 1925
Alain Locke, a writer, philosopher and intellectual, was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar. A strong supporter of African-American arts, he wrote about the Harlem Renaissance in The New Negro (1925).
Deford Bailey was a "wizard" at playing the harmonica and was most notable for mimicking the sound of locomotives. He was the first African-American to perform at the Grand Ole Opry (1925), and one of the first African-American stars of country music.
Booker T. Washington was the first African-American to be honored on a U.S. stamp, in 1940.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the U.S. armed forces. Beginning in 1941, select groups of extensively tested and rigorously trained African-Americans were trained at The Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen are depicted in the G.I. Joe action figure series.
Ralph J. Bunche, a politician and a U.N. diplomat, was the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace prize in 1950 for mediating the Arab-Israeli truce.
Althea Gibson was the first African-American tennis player to compete in the U.S. Championships in 1950 and at Wimbledon in 1951. In 1957 she won the women's singles and doubles at Wimbledon in 1957, which was celebrated by a ticker tape parade when she returned home to New York City.
Barbara Jordan, leader of the all-Black Texas Southern University debate team stunned and beat the Harvard debate team in 1954
Marian Anderson, a gifted contralto singer, was the first African-American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955.
Nathaniel Adams Cole “Nat King Cole”, a singer, song writer and pianist, was the first African-American to host a national television program, The Nat King Cole Show, in 1956.
Autherine Lucy becomes the first Black student at the University of Alabama in February 1956
Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to not only be named to the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963, but to also win the U.S. Open in 1968, to win the men's singles at Wimbledon in 1975, and the first to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
Charley Pride is one of the most successful African-American country singers of all time, with a career spanning over 40 years (1966-present) and 36 number one hits. He is also the first African-American to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Pride was a baseball player with the Negro League and the Memphis Red Sox before becoming a successful musician.
Diahann Carroll was the first African-American woman to have her own television series, "Julia" in 1968. It was a controversial, yet Nielsen top ten rated show about a single working mother raising her child.
Maya Angelou's autobiographical, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" is the first non-fiction work by an African-American woman to make the best-seller list (1970).
Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. She graduated from medical school in 1975.
Lee Elder was the first African-American golfer to play in the Masters Tournament in 1975. He has won 4 PGA tournaments and 8 Senior PGA tournaments in his career.
Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1980 is the first African-American billionaire.
Ben Carson, a skilled neurosurgeon, led the first successful operation to separate a pair of Siamese twin infants who were joined at the back of the head in 1987.
Debi Thomas, the talented figure-skater, is the first African American to win a medal (bronze) at the Winter Olympic games in 1988.
George Washington Carver who made agricultural advancements and inventions pertaining to the use of peanuts in hundreds of ways and Percy Julian, who helped create drugs to combat glaucoma, were the first African-Americans admitted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.
Minnie Jocelyn Lee Elders was the first African-American and the second woman to serve as the United States Surgeon General. Her term began in 1993 and lasted for 15 months
Maurice Ashley is the first and only African-American to be crowned International Grand Master of chess in 1999. He opened the Harlem Chess Center in 1999, where he coaches young chess players.
In 2002 Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympic games.
Toshia Mears, Director of School Partnerships