AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO WERE FIRST by Joan & Constance Claytor Potter


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A sound-bite presentation of 65 African-Americans who were ""first"" at something. Potter and Claytor urge readers ""to let the lives of these courageous people guide you in setting your own goals."" The list begins in the American colonies and continues on to the present: Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to publish a book, in 1773; James Derham, the first African-American doctor; Alexander Twilight, the first African-American to earn a college degree, in 1823, at Middlebury College; Toni Morrison, the first African-American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Each vignette begins with a caption of that person's ""first,"" but these are limiting, and do not always illustrate the featured person's real importance. Harriet Tubman is called the ""first African-American woman to appear on a postage stamp""; only in the middle of the page-long biographical information is the Underground Railroad mentioned. Similarly, Booker T. Washington is featured as the ""first African-American to have his portrait on a postage stamp,"" perhaps because his other successes do not lend themselves to a quick caption. A worthy listing, but only a first stop on the way to further research.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
Page count: 91pp
Publisher: Cobblehill