African-American Firsts: Athletes
Who was the first African-American boxing champ? How about World Cycling champ? Who was the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal? What year did Jackie Robinson break baseball's color barrier? Who was Althea Gibson and what first did she achieve? Detail our collection of pioneering African-American athletes for the answers to these and many more questions, and explore our African-American Firsts: Athletes photos gallery.
Activist, Tennis Player / 1943 - 1993
Arthur Ashe became the first African-American member of the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963, the first African-American male player to win the U.S. Open (1968) and Wimbledon (1975), and the first black U.S. citizen to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
Football Player / 1939 - 1963
Football star Ernie Davis became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961. His untimely death from leukemia came just two years later, at the age of 23.
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Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
Flip through these photos of some of Black History's most important, controversial and inspiring figures. Check out our African-American Firsts - Athletes, Black Comedians, Million-Dollar Ideas, African-American Biopics, African-American Expats, or explore all of our Black History photos.
Celebrate the historical icons of America's black community through this interactive journey.
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