Henry Ossian Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. Just over twenty years later, he would become the first African American to graduate from West Point.
His path of education to West Point began in a wood shop of a slave. Henry was eight then. His schooling continued at Missionary Schools and then at Atlanta University. However, his dream was to attend West Point.
No African American had ever graduated from West Point. But this didn’t deter Henry. He wrote James C. Freeman, a state Congressman, asking to be appointed to West Point.
After the two exchanged letters, the Congressman appointed Henry.
Henry joined four other African Americans at West Point. And of the group, he became the first to graduate, a member of the Class of 1877.
Then he became the first African American to command regular troops in the U.S. Army.