June 15 - BlackFacts.com Black History Minute

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By BlackFacts.com, Nicole Franklin, and Bryant Monteilh. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

BlackFacts.com presents the black fact of the day for June 15.

Henry Ossian Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

He was born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, the eldest of five brothers. His mother, Isabelle Flipper, and his father, Festus Flipper, a shoemaker, and carriage-trimmer were owned by Ephraim G. Ponder, a wealthy slave dealer.

Flipper attended Atlanta University during Reconstruction. There, as a freshman, Representative James C. Freeman appointed him to attend West Point, where four other black cadets were already attending. The small group had a difficult time at the academy, where they were rejected by white students.

Nevertheless, Flipper persevered, and in 1877, became the first of the group to graduate, earning a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army cavalry.

He was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, one of the four all-black "buffalo soldier" regiments in the Army, and became the first black officer to command regular troops in the U.S. Army.

In 1881, while serving at Fort Davis, Flipper's commanding officer accused him of embezzling $3,791.77 from commissary funds.. A court-martial found him not guilty of embezzlement but convicted him of conduct unbecoming an officer and ordered him dismissed from the Army.

In 1976, the Army granted him an honorable discharge, and in 1999, President Bill Clinton issued him a full pardon.

After his discharge was changed, a bust of Flipper was unveiled at West Point. Since then, an annual Henry O. Flipper Award has been granted to graduating cadets at the academy who exhibit "leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual difficulties.

Learn black history, teach black history at blackfacts.com

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