Henry O. Flipper

1856-1940 – Henry Flipper was the first black to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1877) and was the first black to be assigned to a command position in a black unit following the Civil War. However, Flipper became the victim of a controversial court-martial proceedinghe was charged with “conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman” and received a dishonorable discharge.

Despite repeated attempts to vindicate himself, at the time of his death he still had not cleared his record. Years later, however, the sentence was reversed. He was awarded an honorable discharge posthumously, and his remains were reburied with full honors at Arlington Cemetery. 

As a civilian, Flipper worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as a special agent; his fluency in Spanish aided in saving thousands of acres of disputed land in the Southwest. His published translations of Spanish and Mexican law continue to be standard reference material today.