Black History Names: Barrier Breakers
Black history names include the extraordinary names of extraordinary achievers.
African-American history is full of the (interesting) names of people who have made breakthroughs by being the first to achieve something, whether it be in the arena of government, Civil Rights, scholarship, the professions, sports or the arts. It’s sobering to see how recently some of these firsts occurred.
Here are some outstanding Black history names:
Aulana Peters — first Black woman appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (1984)
Biddy Mason — first known Black female property owner in L.A. (1866)
Charlotta Bass — considered the first Black woman newspaper publisher (1912), and the first African-American to run for vice-president (1952)
Euzham Palcy — first Black woman director of a feature film for a major studio (1989)
Dorothea Towles — first professional Black female model (1949)
Joycelyn (born Minnie) Elders — the first Black female Surgeon General of the U.S. (1993)
Michelle Obama — first African-American first lady (2009)
Minnie M. Geddings Cox — first Black US postmistress (1891)
Minyon Moore — first Black woman political director of the National Democratic Committee (1995)
Oprah Winfrey — first Black woman to host a nationally syndicated weekday talk show (1986)
Phillis Wheatley (pictured) — published the first book of poetry by an African-American (1773)
Atoy Wilson — first Black American ice skater to win a figure skating title (1966)
Barack Obama — first African-American president of the United States (2009)
Booker T. Washington — first president of Tuskegee Institute (1881), first Black guest to dine at the White House (1901), first Black person on a US stamp (1940) and coin (1946)
Briton Hammon — wrote the first known slave autobiography (1760)
Crispus Attucks — Crispus Attucks, a stevedore who was Black and Native American, was the first person killed in the Revolutionary War.
Emmett Ashford — first Black umpire in the major leagues (1966)
Jupiter Hammon — first African-American published writer (1760)
Moses Fleetwood Walker — first Black player in major league baseball (1881)
Salem Poor — first Black soldier to win a battle commendation (1775)
Thomy Lafon — considered the first Black millionaire (1890)
Wynton Marsalis — first jazz artist to win a Pulitzer Prize (1997)
There are of course hundreds of other barrier-breakers, who just happened to have more common names. To find out more, I recommend the book Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events by Jessie Carney Smith.