Black CPA Centennial




The following articles and podcasts bring to life and preserve inspiring stories of success against the odds of some of the most prominent and trailblazing Black accountants. 

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


Commemorating 100 years of Black CPAs and looking forward 

The Black CPA Centennial celebration highlighted the inspiring stories of Black CPAs who broke through barriers and paved a path for others to join the accounting profession. Against the backdrop of the commemoration, work continues to be needed to improve recruiting, retention, and advancement of Black CPAs. 


Building DEI for the future profession

Both accomplished leaders and young professionals are among the many people working to advance the accounting profession’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for the future. Read insights and experiences from DEI leaders as well as some 40 Under 40 Black CPA Award winners on how to expand Black CPA representation in the profession.



Early Black-owned CPA firms spurred diversity efforts

Firms established by pioneering Black CPAs have left an indelible legacy on today’s accounting profession. Built by Black CPAs who succeeded despite adversity, the firms continue to play an important role in the profession’s recruitment and advancement initiatives, and with the clients they serve. 



Driving DEI change in the states 

State CPA society leaders are among those spearheading diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the profession. See what successful steps they and their organizations have taken to enhance the recruitment and advancement of Black CPAs.



Learning from Black CPA career role models

A century after John W. Cromwell Jr. became the nation’s first Black CPA, Black role models continue to open doors in the profession. 

Coming together to advance Black CPAs

Leaders whose organizations focus on promoting the advancement of Black CPAs, both on their own and as a part of the Black CPA Centennial, offer insights on where the profession stands and where it needs to go. 


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.

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

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