Black History Month Obscure Fact #21

Bill Pickett (1871 – 1932) a renowned cowboy and rodeo performer was named to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971 and honored by the U.S. Postal service in a series of stamps as one of the twenty “Legends of the West”


Black History Month Obscure Fact #20

When the question “Who was the first black doctor?” is asked, people often think of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. It’s true that Dr. Williams was renown for being the first in the United States to repair a pericardium — essentially performing open-heart surgery. But this country’s first black physician was actually James Derham.

Although he never received the degree of M.D. he was the first African-American to formally practice medicine in the U.S. Derham was born in 1762 as a slave. He had several masters who were doctors and one encouraged him to practice medicine. He worked as a nurse to buy his freedom, which he was granted in 1783. He opened his first medical practice at age 26. He was acquainted with Dr. Benjamin Rush, who asked him to move to Philadelphia and practice. He opened up a practice there and became the foremost specialist in disorders of the throat.

Additionally, the first black university-trained physician was James McCune Smith and the first black person to graduate from an American medical school was David J. Peck.

Alexander Lucius Twilight was the first African-American to receive a college degree from an American institution. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 1823.

(Sources: e-ssortment:, “African-American Firsts: Famous, little-known and unsung triumphs of blacks in America” by Joan Potter with Constance Claytor. Pinto Press 1994;


Black History Month Obscure Fact #19

Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded the first college for black women in the United States in 1881. The school was named Spelman College after Laura Celestia Spelman Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, who made a sizeable donation to the school.


Black History Month Obscure Fact #18

Although slavery started in the United States in 1619, the first black child born into slavery wasn’t born until 1624. His name was William Tucker, and he was named after his master, a sea captain. Tucker was the child of Anthony and Isabella, who are speculated to be two of the first 20 slaves brought on a Dutch ship to the Jamestown Colony. Together they formed the first African-American family.



Black History Month Obscure Fact #17

Garrett Augustus Morgan, inventor of the traffic signal, also became the first African-American to own a car in Cleveland, Ohio.