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A Timeline of Black History in Westchester



Sojourner Truth

Briarcliff Manor resident Sojourner Truth becomes the first African-American woman to win a lawsuit against a white man.


Madam C.J. Walker

On May 25, 1919, haircare entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker dies in Irvington. At that time, she was regarded as the wealthiest African-American woman in America.


Floyd Patterson

Onetime Yonkers resident Floyd Patterson becomes the youngest heavyweight champion in history. He is also the first heavyweight to regain his title following a loss.


Lorraine Hansberry

On March 11, 1959, Croton-on-Hudson resident Lorraine Hansberry becomes the first black woman to have her play, A Raisin in the Sun, performed on Broadway, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.


Sidney Poitier

Poitier becomes the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in Lilies of the Field. Poitier became a resident of Mount Vernon in 1956.


Betty Shabazz

Betty Shabazz, educator, civil-rights advocate, and widow of Malcolm X moves to a two-story home in Mount Vernon, shortly after her husband, Malcolm X, is assassinated. She later relocates to Yonkers.


Richard Jackson

In December 1984, Richard Jackson gets elected mayor of Peekskill, making him New York State’s first black mayor.


M. Paul Redd

M. Paul Redd purchases the Westchester County Press, making it one of the county’s first African-American-owned newspapers. Decades earlier, Redd brings a landmark housing-discrimination case that results in the 1962 NYS anti-discrimination legislation called The Redd Bill.


Belinda Miles

Westchester Community College’s Belinda Miles, EdD, becomes the first black college president or chancellor in the county’s history.