African Americans have played an important part in American history.  Here is a look back at the firsts:

  • In 1908, boxer Jack Johnson became the first African-American World Heavyweight Champion.  Johnson held the belt until 1915.  More facts after the jump.
  • Paving the way for African-American lawyers, in 1854, John Mercer Langston passed the Bar in Ohio, becoming the first African-American lawyer.
  • In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the first black man to the United States Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.
  • Representing the state of Mississippi, in 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African-American elected to the United States Senate.
  • In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.  She represented the state of New York.
  • For her part in Gone With the Wind, in 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award.
  • In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to go to space.  While aboard the Endeavor for eight days, she worked with American and Japanese researchers.