Category: African-American Firsts

Beyoncé Hires Tyler Mitchell, 23, to Shoot Her September 2018 Vogue Cover, 1st Black Photographer in Magazine’s 126-Year History

Tyler Mitchell (photo via crybabyzine.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to huffingtonpost.com, musical icon Beyoncé received unprecedented control over the cover of the upcoming September issue of Vogue magazine, and in turn hired Tyler Mitchell, 23, to be her photographer. Mitchell will become the first black photographer to shoot a cover in the publication’s 126-year history.

Vogue, according to two sources who are familiar with the agreement between Vogue and Beyoncé, is contractually obligated to give Beyoncé full control over the cover, the photos of her inside the magazine and the captions, which she has written herself and are in long-form. Beyoncé is also not granting Vogue a sit-down interview for the September 2018 issue, as is typical of its cover subjects.

Mitchell, a New York University graduate from Atlanta, quickly became a recognized name in the art world through his work in Cuba and his featured work on Instagram.

The New York Times’ “Up Next” series featured Mitchell in December.  Huffingtonpost.com writes that 23-year-old first gained attention in 2015 with his self-published book of photos, El Paquete, which focused on Cuban skate culture and architecture. Mitchell captured the book’s 108 photos while in Cuba for six weeks as part of a documentary photography program, according to the Times.

Mitchell also photographed Parkland shooting survivors including Sarah Chadwick, Nza-Ari Khepra, Emma Gonzalez and Jaclyn Corin for Teen Vogue’s piece on the #NeverAgain gun control movement.

“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” Mitchell told The New York Times in December. “There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

Dr. Rene Shingles 1st African American Woman Inducted into National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame

Rene Shingles (Photo Courtesy of National Athletic Trainers’ Association)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Dr. René Revis Shingles made history this month when she became the first African American Woman inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association prestigious Hall of Fame – an honor that to date has been bestowed on only 317 of the association’s 45,000 members. Dr. Shingles – a long-time professor at Central Michigan University – became one of the first African American women to become certified as an athletic trainer in 1987.  The Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athletic trainer can receive and recognizes individuals who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.

“While I may be the first, my goal is to ensure that I am not the last. Being an athletic trainer is about providing the highest quality of care to our patients and a tireless dedication to learning, growing and serving. That is what has been bestowed to me by my mentors, and what I hope to continue to contribute to the generations that follow,” said Shingles.

At Central Michigan University, more than 650 students have graduated under her Shingle’s tutelage. She co-authored the first book on cultural competence in athletic training and is considered a national expert on diversity and inclusion in the profession. In 1987, Shingles became the thirteenth African American woman to become a certified athletic trainer. Over the years, she has volunteered in numerous capacities with NATA, the Board of Certification for athletic training and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. For more than 20 years, Shingles has volunteered on the medical staff for the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. In 1996, she was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletic trainer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and marched in the opening ceremonies with Team USA.

Shingles is also a founding member of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), established in 1991 as an advisory committee to the NATA board of directors, to identify and address issues relevant to the ethnically diverse populations as well as members of the profession. Shingles currently serves as a mentor both professional and personally to advance the next generation of athletic trainers. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“We champion the outstanding contributions Dr. Shingles has made – and continues to make – to the profession of athletic training, as well as her commitment and passion for the profession,” says NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “The NATA Hall of Fame recognizes the best among the best in our profession, and Dr. Shingles is truly deserving of this award,” said Lindley.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

Ernest J. Grant Becomes 1st Male President of the American Nurses Association

American Nurses Association President Ernest J. Grant (photo via uncg.edu)

via jbhe.com

Ernest J. Grant has been elected president of American Nurses Association. When he takes office on January 1, he will be the first man to serve as president of the organization that represents nearly 4 million registered nurses in the United States, about 90 percent of whom are women.

Dr. Grant is an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert and oversees the nationally acclaimed North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he works with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.

Dr. Grant, who has been affiliated with the University of North Carolina Hospitals for 36 years, will step down from his posts at the University of North Carolina in order to devote his attention to his duties as president of the American Nurses Association.

A native of Swannanoa, North Carolina, Dr. Grant completed the licensed practical nurse program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. He went on to earn  bachelor’s degree in nursing at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Dr. Grant earned a master’s degree in nursing education and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/ernest-j-gaines-will-be-the-first-man-to-lead-the-american-nurses-association/

Lt. General Darryl A. Williams Becomes 1st African American Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy

Lt. General Darryl A. Williams (photo via armytimes.com)

via jbhe.com

Darryl A. Williams is the 60th superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He is the first African American to serve in this role in the 216-year history of the academy.

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, and a veteran of the first Gulf War, Lieutenant General Williams most recently served as the Commander of Allied Land Command for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Turkey. Previously he held command posts with the Second Infantry Division in South Korea and was deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Army in Europe. In 2014, President Obama appointed General Williams to lead U.S Army Africa, where he led the Defense Department’s program to combat the ebola virus.

General Williams is a 1983 graduate of West Point. He holds master’s degrees in leadership development, military art and science, and national security and strategic studies.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/the-first-african-american-superintendent-of-the-u-s-military-academy/

Duke University Instructor Jaki Shelton Green Becomes 1st African American Woman to be Named North Carolina’s Poet Laureate

Jaki Shelton Green (photo via Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University)

via jbhe.com

Jaki Shelton Green, an instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was named the ninth poet laureate of the state of North Carolina. She is the third woman and the first African American to hold the position.

In making the announcement of Green’s appointment, North Carolina Governor Roy Copper said that “Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.”

In 2014, Green was inducted into the state’s Literary Hall of Fame and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2009, she served as the North Carolina Piedmont Laureate. In 2016, Green served as the writer-in-Residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.

Green has penned eight books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies, and written one play. Her poetry collections include Dead on Arrival (Carolina Wren Press, 1983) and Breath of the Song (Carolina Wren Press, 2005).

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/the-first-african-american-poet-laureate-of-the-state-of-north-carolina/

Rutgers University Acquires the Archives of Jazz Legend Count Basie

(via amazon.com)

via jbhe.com

The Institute of Jazz Studies on the Newark campus of Rutgers University in New Jersey has announced that is has acquired the archives of legendary jazz musician and big band leader Count Basie. The Count Basie Collection includes his pianos, Hammond organ, photos, correspondence, concert programs, business records, housewares and press clippings. Nearly 1,000 artifacts are included in the collection.

Wayne Winborne, executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies notes that “although the materials cover the entire years of Basie’s lifetime, the collection represents the latter years of Basie’s life and career particularly well, including a large number of accolades, Grammy awards, honorary degrees, and proclamations.”

Count Basie enjoyed a career that spanned more than 60 years and helped to elevate jazz as a serious art form. Count Basie established swing as one of jazz’s predominant styles and solidified the link between jazz and the blues. In 1958, he was the first African American to win a Grammy Award. He went on to earn eight additional Grammys. He died in 1984.

The collection will be available to researchers and the general public in the near future.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/06/rutgers-university-newark-aquires-the-archives-of-jazz-legend-count-basie/

London Breed Wins San Francisco Mayoral Race, Becomes 1st Black Female to Lead City

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (photo via sfchronicle.com)

by Darran Simon via cnn.com

London Breed became the first African-American woman elected to lead San Francisco on Wednesday, when her opponent conceded a tight race.

Breed will serve until 2020, finishing the term of the late Mayor Ed Lee, who died in December at age 65. At a short news conference, Breed praised Lee and thanked her supporters, as well as the other candidates, including Mark Leno, a former state senator who conceded the race hours earlier. She struck an optimistic tone about the city’s future.

“I am London Breed, I am president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and soon to be mayor of the city and county of San Francisco,” she said to cheers. Breed continued, “I am so hopeful about the future of our city, and I am looking forward to serving as your mayor. I am truly humbled and I am truly honored.”

‘Remarkable young woman’

Earlier on Wednesday, Leno called Breed to congratulate her. “She is a remarkable young woman,” Leno said. “She is going to do a very fine job and we all wish her the best because her success is San Francisco’s success.” Leno and Breed, both Democrats, faced off in a primary election held June 5. At one point, Leno pulled ahead in the count, but as more ballots were tallied, Breed took the lead.

With the results neck-and-neck, the San Francisco Department of Elections began counting nearly 14,000 provisional ballots this week. The San Francisco Department of Elections must still process more than 1,100 ballots cast under Conditional Voter Registration.

‘You can do anything you want to do’

Breed referenced her humble beginnings in her news conference. Born in San Francisco, Breed was raised by her grandmother in the city’s public housing and attended public schools. She worked as an executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex for over a decade, before becoming involved in public office, according to her biography.

Breed said her grandmother “probably had a hand in this, looking down from the heavens.” Her grandmother “took care of the community. She took care of me even on days when I didn’t deserve it,” Breed said.

When asked to reflect on the milestone of being the first African-American woman to be the city’s mayor, she said: “It’s really amazing, and it’s really an honor … I know it means so much to so many people.”

“I’m a native San Franciscan — I grew up in some of the most challenging of circumstances,” she said. “I think the message that this sends to the next generation of young people growing up in this city, that no matter where you come from … you can do anything you want to do.”

CNN’s Madison Park contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/13/politics/san-francisco-mayor-election-results/index.html

In the Justice System of South Fulton, GA, Black Women Hold Every Top Position

(Photo: Reginald Duncan / The Atlanta Voice)

by Marshall A. Latimore via theatlantavoice.com

As America waits to see if Georgia will make history by electing Stacey Abrams the first African American woman governor in the country this November, African American women in one of Georgia’s newest cities are already making U.S. history.

Only a year after the creation of the City of South Fulton, Georgia’s fifth largest city, is breaking American barriers.

In January 2018, the city’s Municipal Court began operating and in March 2018 the city’s police services officially began. The city is the first city in American history where every criminal justice department head is an African American woman.

Chief of Police Sheila Rogers is a career law enforcement professional with more than twenty-six years experience.  Chief Rogers is the city’s first police chief and one of a few women police chief around the country.

Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers is a University of Georgia law school graduate and the City’s first chief judge.  Judge Sellers was selected through a panel of experienced judges from the surrounding community.

Judge Sellers hired and appointed the Court Administrator, Lakesiya Cofield, and the City’s first Chief Court Clerk, Ramona Howard.

Also appointed to represent the two equally important components of any criminal justice system were two attorneys, City Solicitor LaDawn “LBJ” Jones, who prosecutes the cases and City Public Defender Viveca Famber Powell, who defends those accused of crimes.

Together these African American women make up all the portions of the criminal justice system in the new city. No other time in American history have black women been appointed to the top position in every department in an entire city’s criminal justice system. This amazing first was not planned. However, it is a testament to the reason the city was founded in the first place – self-reliance and local control that properly represents the community in which they serve.

“Our goal is to ensure justice for everyone,” Sellers said. “However, as African American women we are sensitive to the history of criminal justice in our country.   We want to be an example of how to do things right.”

Under Sellers’s leadership, the demographics of the court are not the only progressive attributes. Incorporated in the foundation of the City of South Fulton’s municipal court policies are details not found in other systems that have existed for years, including guaranteed access to an attorney, a robust diversion program that is infused into the court process, and overall respect for victims and the accused alike.

Source: https://www.theatlantavoice.com/articles/in-the-city-of-south-fultons-justice-system-black-women-hold-all-the-reigns/

The Forgotten Girls Who Led the Movement for School Desegregation

Millicent Brown, left, 15, daughter of state NAACP President J. Arthur Brown, one of two black girls to enter Rivers High School in Charleston, S.C, chats with fellow students while awaiting a report from police and fireman concerning a bomb scare at the school on Sept. 3, 1963. (AP Photo)

by Melinda D. Anderson via theatlantic.com

There’s an enduring myth that the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was “the first step” in the fight to desegregate schools. Rachel Devlin, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, is looking to upend that myth. A Girl Stands At The Door, her new account of the black girls and teens who laid the groundwork for the historic ruling, draws from interviews and archival research to show that before Linda Brown, a 9-year-old, became the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, a generation of black girls and young women from the Deep South to the Midwest fueled the grassroots crusade to strike down the “separate but equal” doctrine in America’s public schools and colleges.

Before Brown, some dozen lawsuits were filed on behalf of young black women attempting to enroll in all-white schools—and after Brown, black girls, almost exclusively, did the hard labor of walking through all-white mobs and sitting in previously all-white classrooms, with sometimes hostile classmates and teachers, in pursuit of school integration.

I spoke with Devlin about the black youth who led the effort to racially integrate schools and catalyzed the broader anti-segregation movement. The interview that follows has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.


Melinda D. Anderson: A disproportionate number of black girls were at the forefront of the school-desegregation movement from the late ’40s to the mid-’60s. Why were black girls continually chosen to break the color barrier?

Rachel Devlin: Interestingly, there are no written records about why girls were chosen over and over again in individual lawsuits. These choices were made on a level that was not always entirely conscious. Parents would explain why they should file a lawsuit, and girls agreed. Many of them said, “I was willing.” Other parents drafted their daughters, and the young women cooperated, yet most of the young women who participated were fully invested in school desegregation.

The other thing about girls is that they were good at it. To speak to principals and lawyers and the press you have to be poised, you have to be personable and diplomatic, and young black women had these attributes. They dealt with constant verbal and sexual harassment on the streets of southern cities, of northern cities, and they were acutely aware of their self-presentation in public. It was drilled into them as a way to protect their dignity. Also, very few African American girls and young women did not at some point in their lives work in a white home, and they had to learn how to navigate around white people.

But I want to be clear. This was not just about being accommodating—they knew how to stand their ground. Girls were good at combining different forms of bravery; they could be both stubborn and tough, but also project social openness. They had that sense of self-possession that was extremely useful in these situations.Anderson: You write that the language in the Brown v. Board of Education decision contains “the same moral conviction that inspired black girls to walk up to the doors of white schools and seek to cross the threshold.” In what way are these girls’ untold stories reflected in this landmark ruling?

Devlin: A black girl walking up the steps of a white school and announcing her intentions to go to school with white children was a radical act of social optimism.  Most white people—and a good many African Americans—in the late 1940s and early 1950s believed that white and black children would never be able to learn in an integrated setting. That racial hostility was intractable.

In fact, judges who ruled against these plaintiffs said just that in their decisions. By showing up at the schoolhouse door, these girls were asserting not only their right to attend historically white schools, but that they believed they were capable of sharing a classroom with white students. Their actions and moral clarity reflected their confidence that they and their white peers could coexist in the intimate setting of a school. The Supreme Court decision asserted this same presumption: that it was fitting, right, and possible for children of different races to attend school together in the United States.

Anderson: The battle for school integration sparked bitterness, anger, and even violence. Some of these black girls were elementary-school age. What was the physical and psychological cost of being first?Devlin: Tessie Prevost-Williams and Leona Tate integrated T.J. Semmes Elementary School in New Orleans, in third grade. Along with Gail Etienne, the three of them received the worst violence that I recorded in the book. Because they were so young and so little, people would punch them, trip them, spit in their food. They said they could hardly go to the bathroom because that was a very dangerous space. It was a war inside the school. Tessie, Leona, and Gail all said it was a living hell.

I think the resilience that these young women had is hard to imagine. One would think that it would have been a crippling experience, but they sensed from a very early age the weight and enormity of what they were doing. They came to understand the notion of sacrifice for social justice. The stamina that it took to survive was fed and reinforced by the magnitude of what they were accomplishing.

I think it’s very hard from a current-day perspective to imagine a child going through that. In some ways we just have to be astonished at what they did. America was effecting social change on the backs of young children, and we have to ask ourselves what this means about political change in this country, that we leaned on young children to do this work of racial reconciliation.

Anderson: You talked to some of these women in your research. How do they view the resegregation of schools today—what some have called the broken promises of Brown v. Board of Education?

Devlin: Of the nearly 30 people that I interviewed, to a person, they still very much believe in what they did. They tend to look at the broader changes that have happened as a result of Brown v. Board, the day-to-day interactions between white and black Americans in a society that is diverse and desegregated. They see a larger tableau that has been fundamentally altered because the schools desegregated—the ripple effects of the Brown decision.

They also understand that people within the black community question desegregation. Some of them have even been the object of complaints: If you hadn’t done this, we would still have all-black schools. But they say it had to be done. Millicent Brown, who was among the first to integrate schools in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1963, put it in a way that’s quite striking: “We could not have apartheid in the schools.”

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/05/rachel-devlin-school-desegregation/561284/

Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Makes History

GA Democratic gubernatorial nominees Stacey Abrams (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

by Alice Truong via qz.com

Stacey Abrams made American history on Tuesday (May 22) when she won the Democratic primary for governor in Georgia, making her the first black female gubernatorial candidate nominated by a major party.

If she pulls off a victory in November against the Republican nominee, who will be decided in a runoff in July, the former state House minority leader will have a number of firsts to her name: the first female governor in Georgia, the first black governor of the state, and the first black woman elected governor in the US.

(Though she was not elected, Barbara Jordan in 1972 briefly served as the first female and first black governor of Texas when governor Preston Smith and lieutenant governor Ben Barnes were both out of the state on the same day.)

Abrams, of course, still faces an uphill battle in the deep South, which hasn’t elected an African-American governor since reconstruction. As the New York Times points out, she’ll need strong turnout from black voters to stand a chance in November. In Georgia, non-Hispanic white voters comprise 53% of the population and have traditionally voted in strong numbers.

“Tonight’s victory was only the beginning,” said Abrams in a Facebook post. “The road to November will be long and tough, but the next step is one we take together.”

Source: https://qz.com/1285911/stacey-abramss-georgia-victory-puts-the-us-closer-to-its-first-black-female-governor/