Highlighting Black Accounting Trailblazers
CPAacademy.org is committed to honoring the rich history of the first black accounting trailblazers, who took the initial steps to break into this once "exclusive" profession and make their mark on the accounting world. Each Wednesday during the month of February, we'll publish a new article highlighting these trailblazers. Through this 4-part series of articles, we encourage you to learn more about the black accounting community, the issues they face, and their contributions to the accounting profession.
Week 2 of 4: Kentucky Pioneer, Persevering Columbia Graduate, Millionaire Philanthropist, Groundbreaking Bank Founder, and Frequent Valedictorian
Chauncey L. Christian was the third African American to become a Certified Public Accountant in the United States. Of the 50 men taking the Kentucky CPA exam in 1926, Christian was one of only seven who passed. Kentucky would not have another African American CPA for another 34 years.
Theodora Rutherford was a commerce and finance graduate of Howard University. She would later become the first Black woman to graduate with a master’s degree in accounting from Columbia. However, firms declined to hire her based on her skin color, preventing her from meeting New York’s experience requirements for the certification. Not one to be deterred, Theodora finally became a CPA 34 years later.
Born Sarah Breedlove to formerly enslaved parents, Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919) was the first Black female millionaire in America. She made her fortune in homemade hair care products designed for Black women. The self-made millionaire funded scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated large sums of her wealth to the NAACP, the Black YMCA, and other charities to help those in need.
Reverend William Washington Browne, a former Georgia slave, founded the first-ever black-owned bank in America. At its peak, the True Reformers Savings Bank had more than $1 million in deposits.
Ruth Coles Harris was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1928. Her parents strongly encouraged education. Along with two of her sisters, Ruth was class valedictorian in elementary, high school, and college. Harris and her older sister, Bernadine Coles Gines, would become the first black female CPAs in their respective states (Harris in Virginia in 1962, and Gines in New York in 1954).
In case you missed it: Celebrate Week 1 Highlights!
Keep discovering: Celebrate Week 3 Highlights!
|CPAacademy.org Honors Black History Month