WE HONOR OUR FIRSTS

As Black/African-American graduates, we understand both the tradition and camaraderie that come with the West Point experience, as well as the uniqueness of our perspective. There is power in the story told by our collective voices. We pledge to honor and recognize those who have come before us and to be the example for those to follow.

WHO IS LT HENRY O. FLIPPER?

LT Henry O. Flipper , Class of 1877

LT Henry O. Flipper , Class of 1877

Henry Ossian Flipper was born on March 21, 1856, in Thomasville, Georgia. In 1877, Flipper attended Atlanta University where he received an appointment to the United StatesMilitary Academy at West Point. Though he was not the first African-American attendee at the school, he became the first black person to graduate in 1877. After he graduated, Flipper wrote The Colored Cadet at West Point in 1878. 

Flipper was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 1999

Flipper was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 1999

Following his graduation, Flipper received his commission as second lieutenant, and became the first black officer in the U.S. Army. In 1878, he was assigned to the Black 10th Cavalry Regiment. In November 1881, in an apparent racial incident, he was accused by his white commanding officer of embezzling funds. Although he was acquitted of the charges, he was dishonorably discharged in 1882.

Flipper tried unsuccessfully to vindicate himself for many years thereafter. He died on May 3, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty-six years after his death, in 1976, it was revealed that officers had framed him. President Bill Clinton posthumously granted Flipper an honorable discharge in 1999, and on the 100th anniversary of his graduation, West Point unveiled a bust to honor the former graduate.