This Day in Black History: June 15, 1877

1877:  Henry Ossian Flipper (1856 - 1940), the first Black graduate of West Point.  (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This Day in Black History: June 15, 1877

The first African-American cadet graduated from West Point Academy.

Published June 15, 2014

Although West Point — the first military school in America — was founded by Congress in 1802, the first African-American cadet would not graduate from the academy for more than half a century.

On June 15, 1977, former slave Henry Ossian Flipper graduated from West Point with the ranking of second lieutenant in the all-African-American 10th Cavalry.

While he was not the first Black cadet in the school — James Webster Smith was admitted in 1870 but did not graduate -- Flipper spent four years at the academy and was never greeted or spoken to by a white cadet the entire time.

The prejudice at West Point coincided with racist and sexist bias within the American military, which on some levels is still prevalent today. However, the Academy is now fully integrated with women and men of all races with an enrollment of more than 4,000 students.

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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Written by Dominique Zonyeé


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