Firsts

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Carol Moseley-Braun

Carol Moseley-Braun

Carol Moseley-Braun

The first African-American woman Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun was also only the second black Senator since the Reconstruction Era. “I cannot escape the fact that I come to the Senate as a symbol of hope and change,” Moseley-Braun said shortly after being sworn in to office in 1993. “Nor would I want to, because my presence in and of itself will change the U.S. Senate.” During her single term in office, Senator Moseley-Braun advocated for civil rights issues and for legislation on crime, education, and families.

Carol Moseley was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 16, 1947. Her parents, Joseph Moseley, a policeman, and her mother, Edna (Davie) Moseley, a medical technician, divorced in 1963. The oldest of the four Moseley children in a middle-class family, Carol graduated from Parker High School in Chicago and earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois in 1969.   Continue reading

Capital Savings of Washington

Capital Savings

Capital Savings

After the demise of Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, it would take 14 years for African Americans to rally behind another bank. The first bank organized and operated by African Americans was Capital Savings Bank in Washington, D.C. Just four years after it opened, its deposits had grown to over $300,000.

Capital Savings Bank provided the capital essential to the growth of black businesses, capital that white-owned banks were unwilling to lend. The community proudly deposited its money in Capital Savings Bank. The public’s confidence in Capital was rock solid in the early days, enabling the bank to exert a strong, positive economic impact on the community it served. During the Panic of 1893, the bank rode out the tide and was able to honor every obligation on demand. Capital Savings Bank helped many African-American businesses and property owners until it closed in 1902.  Continue reading

Benjamin S. Carson, Sr.

Benjamin S. Carson, Sr.

Benjamin S. Carson, Sr.

Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. is a pioneer in brain surgical techniques; however, he is best known for leading the first surgical team that successfully separated a pair of Siamese twins joined at the head. Despite struggling with school as a child, he won a scholarship to Yale and received a bachelor’s degree.

He became the first black person accepted into the residency program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and after spending a year in Australia, Carson was promoted to Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in 1984. At 31, he was the youngest doctor to hold such a position.

Carson has been the recipient of numerous awards for his pioneering role and development of brain surgery techniques.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is known as the first institution for higher learning for African Americans.   The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendents of the African race.

Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Richard Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764. Having witnessed the struggles of African Americans competing unsuccessfully for jobs due to the influx of immigrants, he became interested in their plight. In 1829, race riots heightened and it was that year Richard Humphreys wrote his will and charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution: “…to instruct the descendents of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers….”  Continue reading

Alexander L. Twilight

TWILIGHTAlexander Lucius Twilight is the first African American to graduate from a U.S. college, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 1823. Also a pioneer in Vermont politics, Twilight became the first African American to win election to public office in 1836, joining his home-state legislature. He died in Brownington, Vermont, on June 19, 1857.

Born on September 23, 1795 (though sources vary on the month and day of his birth, with some saying September 26 and others noting July 15), in Corinth, Vermont, where he also grew up, Alexander Lucius Twilight was one of six children born to Ichabod and Mary Twilight. The Twilights were one of the few African-American families living in the area at the time. According to the Old Stone House Museum’s website, Ichabod Twilight served in the American Revolutionary War.  Continue reading

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