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Horatio Julius Homer: The First African-American Police Officer in Boston

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Homer Julius, the son of Charles Homer and Sarah Fields, was born on May 24, 1848, in Farmington, Connecticut. In 1878, he was hired by the Boston Police Department and became the first African-American police officer in Boston. He went on to serve the force for the next 40 years.

He was known to travel a lot and did many jobs before he became a police officer. At the age of 14, Homer worked as a hotel bellhop in Waterbury. He later worked as a porter on a Pullman car that ran between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He also worked as a steward on a steamboat that operated between Boston and Bangor. Later in 1878, he worked as a waiter in two other hotels in Boston. He later worked as a janitor in Globe Theatre, and while working there, he met some men who advised him to become a police officer.

He worked on the advice and put in for the application. On December 24, 1878, Homer was appointed by Police Commissioner Henry Russell and was connected to Station 4. He spent most of his service years guarding the entrance to the Office of the Police Commission in Pemberton Square.

On September 11, 1895, he passed the civil service examination, an accomplishment which came as no surprise for most people because he was known to be exceedingly well versed in police duties. Homer’s success led to his promotion to the rank of sergeant by Police Commissioner Martin on September 23. He died on January 9, 1923, at the age of 74.

Black Excellence

Mary Patterson: The First African-American Woman to Earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree

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Mary Patterson was born into slavery on September 12, 1840. She was the eldest of the children of her parents, Henry Patterson and Emeline Eliza. Though she was not very popular, she was a pioneer in African-American education and paved the way for other black female educators.

She attended Oberlin College, the first U.S. college to grant undergraduate degrees to women. She graduated in 1862 and earned a B.A. to become the first African-American woman to achieve this feat. The college had only a few black students enrolled during the four years she was a student.

From 1869 to 1871, she taught at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth which is known today as Dunbar High School, Washington, D.C. She was the first Black principal of the school and first served from 1871 to 1872. She was reappointed in 1873 and served till 1884.

During her tenure, the school grew from about 50 to 172 students. She taught at the High School until her death on September 24, 1894.

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Black Excellence

Reverend Lemuel Haynes: The First African-American Ordained as a Christian Minister in the United States

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Reverend Haynes an American clergyman who was born on July 18, 1753, at West Hartford, Connecticut. He was the first African-American man ordained as a minister in the United States.

During his childhood, he was a servant in the house of a Granville, Massachusetts farm of Deacon David Rose. He regularly went to church with Rose and later began to preach as a boy. He studied theology in Connecticut and Massachusetts and received his license to preach in 1780.

In 1785, he was ordained and settled at Hemlock Congregational Church in Torrington, Connecticut. This made him the first African-American to be ordained in the United States. Haynes left his pastorate at Torrington on March 28, 1788, to accept a call at the West Parish Church of Rutland.

He went on to serve in the church for the next 30 years. He died in 1833 in South Granville and was buried at Lee-Oatman Cemetery in South Granville.

 

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Black Excellence

Edith S. Sampson: The First African-American Delegate to the United Nations

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Edith Sampson, the daughter of Louis Spurlock and Elizabeth McGruder, was born on October 13, 1898, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the first black woman to be elected as a judge in the state of Illinois.

In 1924, she opened a law office in Chicago to serve the local black community. In 1927, she became the first woman to earn a Master of Laws from Loyola University’s Graduate Law School.

On 24 August 1950, President Truman, the 33rd of the United States, appointed her as an alternate United States delegate to the United Nations. This made her the first African-American to officially represent the United States at the UN.

She became a member of the UN’s Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, where she lobbied for continued support of work in social welfare. She died on October 8, 1979.

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