African American Firsts: Famous Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America


Did you know that. . .

  • Ralph Bunche was the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Tony Dungy was the first African American NFL coach to win a Super Bowl game.
  • Eric Holder became the first African American to serve as United States Attorney General.
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie were the ...
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Did you know that. . .

  • Ralph Bunche was the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Tony Dungy was the first African American NFL coach to win a Super Bowl game.
  • Eric Holder became the first African American to serve as United States Attorney General.
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie were the first African Americans to win Grammy awards.
  • An African American doctor performed the first open-heart surgery.

Excluded from history books, overlooked in classrooms, and neglected by media, African Americans have long been denied an accurate picture of their contributions to our nation, from colonial days to the present. But times have changed and the record will be set straight. From the inventor of the traffic light and the gas mask to winners of an Oscar and the Olympic gold, this authoritative resource reveals over 450 "firsts" by African Americans--wonderful accomplishments achieved often despite poverty, discrimination, and racism.

Leaders in government, entertainment, education, science and medicine, the law, military, and in the business world, African Americans have made their mark. African American Firsts is a clear reflection of that prideful legacy, and a signpost to an even greater future.

"African American Firsts works, works well, and works brilliantly." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"For browsing or serious queries on great achievements by blacks in America." --Booklist

"Fascinating. . .an excellent source for browsing and for locating facts that are hard to find elsewhere." --School Library Journal

"Reveals African American history as Potter had never been taught in predominantly white schools." --Publishers Weekly

"I recommend this book, a tool with innumerable possibilities which will help individuals understand. . .the contributions and inventions of African Americans." --The late Dr. Betty Shabazz

Over 75 Pages of Photographs
Fully Revised and Updated

Joan Potter's nonfiction writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, which published more than fifty of her articles. She is the co-author of two books: The Book of Adirondack Firsts, and the children's book, African Americans Who Were First. Her personal essays appear in the anthologies Rooted in Rock, Living North Country, and Illness & Grace, Terror & Transformation, and in the Syracuse University literary journal, Stone Canoe. She has led writing workshops for Adirondack women and prison inmates, and has been teaching a memoir class since 1998 at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

From the name of the first millionaire to the first million-copy bestselling author, here are some occasions to cheer and weep about.
A Black history buff 's dream.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
I rarely pick up a non-fiction book I can't put down. I finally found one. African-American Firsts works, works well, and works brilliantly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758241665
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011



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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    How does garbage like this get published?

    Readers of this book will learn that African Americans invented the following devices: the first rail telegraph, first clock made in colonial American, first long lasting carbon filament for light bulbs, the third rail used in subway trains, the electric trolley, performed the first open heart surgery or first pericardial heart surgery, first traffic signal, first gas mask, first electric turn signals in cars, and first golf tee. The only problem is that all these claims made in this book are completely false. These claims are widespread on the internet and have been repeatedly disproven. For example the claim that Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light has been widespread, but the patent office issued dozens of traffic signal patents before Morgan. The modern red, yellow, green traffic lights we have today were already on the streets two years before Morgan applied for his patent. Moreover his signal looks nothing like the modern traffic signals. Instead it resembles traffic signals that were used in London before Morgan was even born.

    One afternoon of Googling "black invention myths" revealed over a dozen factual errors just in the science and medicine section.

    This book even claims that Senator Carol Moseley-Braun was "the first African American to serve in that body in its history" even though the same book had previously listed two African Americans in the Senate during Reconstruction.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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