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.

19th century

  • 1868
First elected African-American lieutenant governor: Oscar Dunn, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
First 33 African-American legislators in Georgia: see Original 33
  • 1870
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)
  • 1871
First African-American police officer in Chicago, Illinois: James L. Shelton.[3]
  • 1872
First African-American governor of Louisiana: P. B. S. Pinchback (Also first in U.S.) (Non-elected; see also Douglas Wilder, 1990)
  • 1873
First African-American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and of any state legislature: John R. Lynch
first African American elected to the Tennessee General Assembly: Sampson W. Keeble
  • 1876
first African American elected to the Illinois General Assembly: John W. E. Thomas
  • 1879
first African American elected to the Wyoming Legislature: William Jefferson Hardin
  • 1880
First African-American elected to the Indiana general assembly: James Sidney Hinton[4][5]
  • 1889
First African-American female principal in Massachusetts and the Northeast: Maria Louise Baldwin, supervising white faculty and a predominantly white student body at the Agassiz Grammar School in Cambridge (renamed the Maria L. Baldwin School in 2004).[6][7]
  • 1893
First African-American member elected to the Michigan House of Representatives: William Webb Ferguson
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