Black CPA Centennial




The 2021 Black CPA Centennial celebration will “honor, celebrate, and build” upon the rich history and progress Black CPAs have made in the CPA profession thus far. Stay tuned for more engaging information throughout the year that bring to life and preserve the inspiring stories of success against the odds of some of the most prominent and trailblazing Black accountants.

Listen to these Podcast Episodes

The struggles and triumphs of the first Black CPAs

In this first part of a two-episode podcast, we take a look at the remarkable accomplishments of Black CPAs in the 20th century, featuring the testimony of two CPAs who witnessed Black CPA history firsthand: Ruth Harris (#85), the first Black female CPA in Virginia, and Frank Ross, one of the founders of the National Association of Black Accountants. To read the transcript, please visit us here. 

What we can do to increase the number of Black CPAs

African Americans are still underrepresented in the accounting profession: Only 2% of CPAs are Black. In this second part of a two-episode podcast, we look at what the profession can do to increase the number of Black CPAs.To read the transcript, please visit us here

Read Their Stories

Diverse faculty attracts diverse students 

The first Black CPA Ph.D.s and the professors who were mentored or inspired by them have played an important role in attracting generations of ambitious Black students to the profession.

Elmer Whiting

Elmer J. Whiting Jr., CPA

In 1971, 50 years after the first Black CPA received his license, Elmer J. Whiting Jr. became the first Black partner of one of the nation’s largest accounting firms. His achievement helped to influence and inspire his firm, his community and ambitious professionals following his footsteps. 


Mary T. Washington Wylie, CPA

In 1943, Mary T. Washington Wylie became the nation’s first Black woman to earn the CPA license. Her life illustrates the difference that one enterprising professional can make for many future generations.

John Cromwell

John W. Cromwell, Jr., CPA

John W. Cromwell Jr., the son of a former slave, overcame many obstacles in his life to earn his place in history as the nation’s first Black CPA in 1921. His story is an inspiration and lesson in tenacity for future generations of Black accountants.



A White-Collar Profession: African American Certified Public Accountants Since 1921

Among the major professions, certified public accountancy has the most severe underrepresentation of African Americans: less than 1 percent of CPAs are black. Theresa Hammond explores the history behind this statistic and chronicles the courage and determination of African Americans who sought to enter the field. In the process, she expands our understanding of the links between race, education, and economics.

*The number before each person's name, corresponds to the order they appeared on the first 100 Black CPA list.

Thank you to the AICPA, ICPAS, and VSCPA for sharing these stories! 

If you have additional stories to share, please email 
[email protected], so we can add them! 

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