Harlem Firsts

Eugene Jacques Bullard (1894-1961) was the first African American to fly a fighter plane and was known as the “black swallow of death” for his courage during missions. He led a colorful life, much of it in Europe.

mrs-velena-g-ellis-1945Mrs. Velena G. Ellis, the first African American woman police officer admitted to the New York bar and the first black woman on the NYPD in 1945.

jack-johnson-1921Jack Jonhson was the first black world champion as he drove down a street in Harlem and was the owner of the Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue at the time in the 1920′s.

bessie-buchanan-1955Harlem’s Bessie Allison Buchanan First Black Woman To Be New York State Legislature, 1940′s.

althea-gibson-195729-year-old Althea Gibson of Harlem became the first African American ever to win a championship in Britain’s historic Wimbledon tournament. Gibson was accorded the city’s traditional reception with a ticker tape parade in 1957.

arthur-mitchellAs founder and director of the Dance Theater of Harlem, Arthur Mitchell was the first African American to become a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet in 1956.

adam-clayton-powell-jrAdam Clayton Powell Jr. was sworn in as New York’s first African American city council member by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. A prominent civil rights leader in Harlem, Powell was also pastor of the Abyssinisan Baptist Church.

$(KGrHqJ,!lwE65n1q-zjBO8QDUI-vw~~60_57Adam Clayton Powell,. Jr., was the first Congressman to hold a Congressional Hearing on the street for the public in Harlem, NY. in 1965.

061_52Dr. May Edward Chinn was the first was an African-American woman physician. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College and the first African-American woman to intern at Harlem Hospital.