In 1921, 25 years after the first certified public accountant (CPA) certificate was granted in the U.S., John W. Cromwell, Jr. became the first Black CPA.
He opened a door through which thousands of other Black accountants would eventually pass.
With 2021 marking the 100th anniversary of Cromwell’s landmark achievement, various organizations have come together to announce a year-long national awareness campaign that recognizes Black CPAs in the U.S. and pushes for greater progress to be made in achieving diversity, inclusion, and equity in the CPA profession. Following Cromwell, it took a staggering 45 years for the first 100 Black accountants to be licensed as CPAs. While there has been progress, it has been slow. In 2019, an AICPA survey found, that among all CPA firms that responded to the survey, only 2% of CPAs were Black.
While the organizing partners and other stakeholders will further celebrate in their own ways, they are united in advancing the shared goals of the Black CPA Centennial campaign to “honor, celebrate, and build” upon the rich history and progress Black CPAs have made in the profession. Activities include a series of articles and videos that bring to life and preserve the inspiring stories of success against the odds of some of the most prominent and trailblazing Black accountants. Learn more about our year-long efforts to honor, celebrate, and build upon the progress Black CPAs have made in shaping the accounting profession.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Diverse Organization of Firms, Illinois CPA Society, National Association of Black Accountants,
and National Society of Black CPAs have come together as organizing partners for the Black CPA Centennial.