African-American Firsts: Awards & Honors
Browse our collection of African-American Firsts: Awards & Honors, including Oprah Winfrey, who became the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002; Floyd Patterson; the youngest heavyweight champion in history and the first heavyweight to regain his title following a loss; Shani Davis, who became the first black athlete at the Winter Olympics to win a gold medal in an individual sport in 2006; and Henry Armstrong, who became the first boxer to hold three different weight division titles at the same time in 1938. Explore full biographies, photo galleries, videos and more, only at Biography.com.
Film Actress, Entrepreneur, Producer, Philanthropist, Talk Show Host, Television Producer / 1954 -
In 2002, Oprah Winfrey was named the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. The following year, she became the first black female billionaire in the United States.
Singer / 1942 -
Soul singer Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Franklin is also one of the most honored artists in Grammy Award history, winning her 18th honor in 2008.
Film Actress, Television Actress, Comedian, Talk Show Host / 1955 -
In 1991, Whoopi Goldberg became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for best supporting actress in nearly 50 years (following Hattie McDaniel, who won the award in 1939), as well as only the second African-American actress to win an Oscar for acting. Goldberg later became the first woman to host the Academy Awards. Additionally, she is one of only 11 entertainers to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
Golfer, Tennis Player / 1927 - 2003
Althea Gibson became the first African-American tennis player to compete at the U.S. National Championships in 1950, and the first black player to compete at Wimbledon in 1951.
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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:
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
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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