Black History 365 – The first Black person to… be a U.S. federal government civil servant

William Cooper Nell

William Cooper Nell

In 2016 for my Black History 365 series, I explore the obvious and not so obvious parts of American history that those called Black have taken part in. The things that we (Black people) have done other than be stolen from our homeland and made forced labor in a land foreign to us. I’m going to start this series by looking up the first time someone African-American did something and broke the color barrier in that activity or field. I’ll be starting with Wikipedia and working my way out:

I will be learning a lot of this as I go since I am a product of the standardized Euro/Anglo/Caucasian leaning public school system. I hope you enjoy learning with me. I’ll be going down the list chronologically as it appears in the Wikipedia article.

If you have any other sources or additional information for this topic, please share in the comments. I also welcome any and all comments and discussion. Thanks for reading!

For my twenty-fourth entry this year:

1861:  First African-American U.S. federal government civil servant: William Cooper Nell

William Cooper Nell (December 16, 1816 – May 25, 1874) was an African-American abolitionistjournalistauthor, and civil servant who worked for school integration in Boston. Writing for The Liberator and The North Star, he helped publicize the anti-slavery cause. He helped found the New England Freedom Association and later the Committee of Vigilance, to aid escaping slaves after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. His histories, Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812 (1851) and Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), were the first extensive studies published of African Americans. He is noted as the first African American to serve in the federal civil service, in the post office.



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