Picture Books of African American Firsts

Jan, 13, 2020

PICTURE BOOKS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN FIRSTS. Celebrate Black History with picture books. #diversebooks #blackhistorymonth

This list of books contains people who fought for the right to follow their dreams. Every individual on this list faced many obstacles that would have stopped some, but it didn’t stop them. Their perseverance is what makes these individuals unique and the first!

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Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this list on Bookshop here.

Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf by Nancy Churnin

Charles “Charlie” Luther  Sifford (1922-2015) was the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour. Bookshop Affiliate Link

What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan By Chris Barton

Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was the first African-American congresswoman to come from the south.⁣

She is known for her powerful voice; her most well-known speech was her opening speech for Richard Nixon’s impeachment investigation.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson by Leda Schubert

Raven Wilkinson (1935-2018) was the first African American ballerina to join a major classical ballet troupe. Bookshop Affiliate Link


This is an amazing book about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (1942-2018). Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bookshop Affiliate Link

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca

Dr. Patricia Bath (1942-2019) was the African-American to woman complete their residency as an ophthalmologist and the first African-American woman to receive a medical patent. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl

Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson by Karen Deans

Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher

Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was the first African American to compete and win at Wimbledon.

Bookshop Affiliate Link: Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-Of-Foot Girl

Bookshop Affiliate Link: Playing to Win: How Althea Gibson Broke Barriers and Changed Tennis Forever

Bookshop Affiliate Link: Nothing But Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was the first African American to write and direct a major film and the first African American photographer at Vogue and Life magazines. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues by Leah Henderson

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935-2017) was the first female pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Thurgood by Jonah Winter

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was the first African American Supreme Court Justice. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton By Don Tate

George Moses Horton (1798-1884) was a poet and was the first southern African American man to published. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Jesse Owens Fastest Man Alive by Carole Boston Weatherford

Jesse Owens (1913-1980) was the first American to win four track and field gold medals at a single Olympics. Bookshop Affiliate Link

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Bass Reeves (1838-1910) was the first African American to become a U.S. Marshal in the West. Bookshop Affiliate Link


Game Set Match: Champion Arthur Ashe by Crystal Hubbard

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) is the only African American man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. Bookshop Affiliate Link


Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows

Using rhyme, the author briefly tells Janet Collins’s (1917-2003) story of how she became the first African American prima ballerina in 1951. Bookshop Affiliate Link



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Melissa Nikohl


  1. Reply


    September 13, 2020

    Love to see this every day !

    • Reply

      Melissa Nikohl

      September 17, 2020

      Thank you so much! It’s a great list! Definitely one of my favorites!

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