S.A.V.W.A.Y.
Self Awareness Vehicle Who Are You

​Black Firsts

To be first takes a special kind of person--someone willing to standout from the crowd and be counted.  It also takes a person who is willing to bear the burden of sacrifice and responsibility that comes with such a significant distinction.

People who are first clear the path for all who come after them.  And, when a black person breaks a barrier and ventures into never-before-territory, the significance of his or her action is even more dynamic because of the effort which is required to overcome discrimination and dispel stereotype myths.  Notwithstanding, the accomplishment of a first by a black person holds out a shining ray of hope for all to see--a beacon to the path of self-realization and a meaningful life.

Each of the 24 individuals in this category overcame heavy odds on his or her way into history and our lives. Each represents a tremendous accomplishment, whether we examine the superlative intellectual achievement of Alan Locke or the steady and determined military rise of Gen. Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., each depicts a person of decision and action.  Each had a vision, a goal, and a purpose.

As we strive to open doors of opportunity and plow new fields, homage should be extended to those who came before us, and recognition bestowed for the tremendous price they paid.  By being first, they stood where all could see.  Often viewed with the expectation of failure, they bore the weight of their race on their shoulders and they proved worthy.

It should be noted that the historic people mentioned in this booklet are only a very few of many, many black pioneers.  To compile a truly comprehensive biography of all black firsts would be an immense project that would run into numerous volumes.  With this category, we have tried to present an array of firsts which represents many different disciplines and endeavors.