Author: Cassandra Gray, NASBA Communications Manager
Posted: February 7, 2018

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is observed annually in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, in remembrance of the important individuals and events chronicling the history of the African diaspora. The month-long observance was first recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, and is celebrated in the United States and Canada in February, and the United Kingdom in October.

Here a few notable Black history facts linked to NASBA and to the accounting profession. Did you know…

  • In 1921, John W. Cromwell, Jr. became the first black American to earn the CPA designation, some 25 years after the first CPA certificate was granted in the United States. Cromwell, a graduate of Dartmouth, overcame a 15-year denial period before receiving approval to sit for the CPA Exam in New Hampshire. He received his licensure in New Hampshire and later in the District of Columbia.
  • The first black woman to become a CPA was Mary T. Washington-Wylie of New York in 1943. She went on to found Washington, Pittman & McKeever, one of the largest black CPA firms in the country. The great Muhammed Ali was one of her most famous clients!
  • In December 1969, nine African-Americans met in New York City to discuss the unique challenges and limited opportunities they faced in the accounting profession. In that year, there were only 136 African-American Certified Public Accountants out of a total of 100,000 in the United States. From that discussion came the establishment of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). Today, there are over 200,000 African-Americans participating in the accounting profession, of which over 5,000 are CPAs.
  • In 1992, NASBA elected its first African-American president (now referred to as board chair), Nathan T. Garrett, CPA, of Durham, North Carolina. Garrett is noted for opening the first black-owned accounting firm in the state of North Carolina.   
  • In 2014, Walter C. Davenport, CPA, of Raleigh, North Carolina, became the second African-American to serve as chair of NASBA. Ironically, Nathan Garrett, CPA, served as a mentor to Davenport and in 1974, Davenport returned to North Carolina to co-found Garrett & Davenport, P.C., the largest and oldest minority-owned firms in North Carolina. The firm later merged into Cherry, Bakaert & Holland in 1998.   


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