The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Black firsts

Photo art by Alex Hoben/illustration by Tj Favela/The Collegian

The Collegian

With the end of Black History Month approaching, the talented and notable Black people of various fields become increasingly important to highlight and important to celebrate. 

It was Carter G. Woodson who started the idea in 1926, but it wasn’t until 1976 when President Gerald Ford recognized the holiday. 

While all notable Black philanthropists cannot be encapsulated in two sheets of paper, here are some Black firsts, among the many worth celebrating of the years after 2000.  


Since its establishment, TCC has been a place that has allowed Black excellence to thrive. This standard originated with Reverend Leonard L. Haynes — the first Black person on the Board of Trustees and first Black person elected countywide in Tarrant County in 1965. Dr. Gwendolyn Morrison has been the longest serving member of the Board of Trustees since being elected in 1976. In 2010, Erma Johnson Hadley became the first Black chancellor of the college. 


The music industry has produced many talented artists since the 2000’s. Many Black Americans have been pioneers, creating and sharing impactful artistry. Beyonce became the first person in 2023 to win 32 Grammy’s, breaking a new record. Kenderick Lamar’s rap album ‘DAMN’ became the first to win a Pulitzer in 2018. Donald Glover’s song, ‘This is America’ became the first rap song to win Grammy awards for song and record of the year in 2019. 


Journalism creates a space of objectivity, these Black journalists use their lived experiences to present the truth. Cerise Castle wrote the first history of deputy gangs inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Karen Attiah won the George Polk Award in 2019 for a piece she wrote on the murder of her colleague. Errin Haines worked as the Associated Press’ National Writer on Race and Ethnicity. 


You can find Black excellence in all industries. There are many firsts in the tech industry like Lisa Gelobter for instance, is one of the first to create technologies used by Hulu and Shockwave. She is also the CEO and CO founder of tEQuitable. This company uses technology to provide an independent, confidential platform that addresses issues of bias, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace. Tope Awotona created Calendly, now worth 3 billion, and he won the 2021 Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO Award. Actor Hill Harper created the Black Wall Street app, which is a financial technology app for Black and Latinx people. It can send and receive money but also financially empowers through educational content. 


Examples of Black Leadership can be found everywhere but especially in these three pioneers. Of them is Dr. Sharon Henry who became the first African American woman to be elected to membership as a fellow in the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in the year 2000. Dr. Patrice Harris became the first Black female President-elect in the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the country in 2018. And Dr.Ernest Grant, the first African American served as the president of the American Nurses Association. 

TV and film

The annual Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and Golden Globes have welcomed many firsts in the past few decades. Ayo Edebiri and Quinta Brunson made history by being the first Black women to win Best Lead Actress and Supporting Actress for Comedy in the same year. Whoopi Goldberg became the first Black person to achieve EGOT status.


Black activists have always been at the forefront of the fight to resist and transform injustice within society. Angela Davis is a black woman who has made significant strides in pushing for civil rights, prison abolition, and feminism from the 1960s to the present. In 2020, she was included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world.  

Activism takes many forms, one of those forms is written word. Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S history, she explores the topics of oppression, race, and feminism through her poetry.  

Another writer, Charlene A. Carruthers pushes for liberation by using a queer and feminist lens to tell stories of freedom. She is the founding national director of the BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100). 


Simone Biles has become a face of success after becoming the first Black person to become a world all-around champion, as well as the first woman to win six of those titles since 2013.  

 Gabby Douglas became the first American to claim gold medals in London for the team, as well as to win the women’s artistic individual all-around gymnast at the Olympic Games in 2012.  

 Wendell Scott was a NASCAR pioneer, having been the first Black driver to race full time and win a race in the NASCAR premier series. He also became the first to be inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class in 2015.  

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