More Firsts For African-American Women

 By: Michael Russell Platinum Expert Author
Phillis Peters Wheatley was not only the first African-American woman author, but was also the first African-American person to write a book that was published in America. She was a former slave. In 1773 her book, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, and Moral", was published.

She was an African-American woman who burned a trail for current African-American film stars-- Hattie McDaniel became not only the first African-American woman but also the first African-American person to win an Academy Award. She won the award for best supporting actress for her role in the American movie "Gone With The Wind". She told critics "I'd rather play a maid than be one".

In 1959, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry became the first African-American female playwright to have her work performed on Broadway. Her play was "A Raisin in the Sun", a significantly influential play to Black theatre about the struggles of an African-American family. The first African-American person to receive a Pulitzer Prize was Gwendolyn Brooks. In 1950, she won the prominent award for just her second book of poetry she had written, "Annie Allen". She hailed from Chicago.

Rita Dove was the first African-American woman and person to be appointed to the distinguished literary post of United States Poet Laureate in 1993. She was also the second African-American woman to win a Pulitzer for poetry for her book (published in 1985) "Thomas and Beulah".

The first African-American woman and person to be given the Nobel Prize for literature was Toni Morrison. She received the award in 1993 and is considered one of America's most legendary writers. The first female bank president was African-American Maggie Lena Walker. She opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia in 1903. America's first self-made African-American female millionaire was Madame C.J. Walker who began a African-American hair-care products company in 1906 and used it profit to carve her a place in the history books.

Alice Coachman became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal. She won it for track and field, setting a record in the high jump competition at the time at 5 feet, 6•1/4 inches during the summer Olympic Games of 1948 in London, England. The first African-American woman to win the esteemed Wimbledon singles competition was Althea Gibson. She won it in 1957 and again in 1958 and was credited with breaking the color barrier in professional tennis.

Marcelite Jordon Harris became the first female wing commander of the Air Training Command at Keesler Air Force Base in Gulfport, Mississippi. She was also the first woman to serve as U.S. Air Force aircraft maintenance officer and was the first African-American female U.S. Air Force general. The first African-American female brigadier general was Hazel Winifred Johnson in 1979. She was Army Nurse Corps' first African-American chief.
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