BlackFacts Details

List of African-American U.S. state firsts

African Americans are a demographic minority in the United States. African-Americans initial achievements in various fields historically establish a foothold, providing a precedent for more widespread cultural change. The shorthand phrase for this is breaking the color barrier.[1] [2]

In addition to major, national- and international-level firsts, African-Americans have achieved firsts on a statewide basis.

First elected African-American lieutenant governor: Oscar Dunn, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana

May: First African-American acting governor: Oscar James Dunn of Louisiana from May till August 9, 1871, when sitting Governor Warmoth was incapacitated and chose to recuperate in Mississippi. (See also: Douglas Wilder, 1990)

First African-American police officer in Chicago, Illinois: James L. Shelton.[3]

First African-American governor of Louisiana: P. B. S. Pinchback (Also first in U.S.) (Non-elected; see also Douglas Wilder, 1990)

First African-American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and of any state legislature: John R. Lynch

First African American elected to the Indiana general assembly: James Sidney Hinton.[4] [5]

First African American elected to political office on the West Coast: Frederick Madison Roberts, California State Assembly

First African Americans elected as judges in the state of New York: James S. Watson and Charles E. Toney[citation needed]

First African-American attorney general of Massachusetts: Edward Brooke. Also first African American to hold Massachusetts statewide office, and first African-American attorney general of any state.

First African American woman Texas state senator: Barbara Jordan

First African American appointed to New York State Board of Regents: Kenneth Bancroft Clark

First African American senator from Massachusetts: Edward Brooke. (Also first post-Reconstruction African American elected to the U.S. Senate and first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote).

First African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar: