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Trail Blazers and Barrier Breakers at West Point

The first African Americans appointed to West Point faced many challenges, both academically and socially. Between 1870-1900, the Academy admitted 12 African American cadets. These young men experienced racial prejudice, hazing, ostracism, and silence. Only three of the 23 cadets were about to surmount and endure the harsh treatment and graduated. It would take over thirty more years before the next African- American cadet would graduate in 1936.


In fall 1976, when women were finally admitted to United States’ military service academies, only two African American women out of 119 women were accepted for admission to the U. S. Military Academy and graduated in the Class of 1980.


These young men and women blazed the trail for racial integration and social change at West Point. Their character, leadership, outstanding service, and achievements continue to inspire and pave the way for more African Americans and other minority “Firsts” to follow, at the same time strengthening the legacy of leadership and enriching the history of The Long Gray Line.


Do More Together has a comprehensive list of Notable Black/African American West Point Graduates

Black History Project at West PointVideos made for the Black History Project in the Department of History at West Point, including videos made for classes and about cadet and faculty research.

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