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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Spotlight on Implicit Bias

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Celebrating Black History

The 100th Anniversary of the First African-American CPA

John W. Cromwell, Jr.

New Hampshire, 1921

Born into a prominent Washington, D.C., family, John Cromwell graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1906. He taught math at a Black high school in D.C., and returned to New Hampshire to take the CPA examination in 1921. At that time, CPA firms refused to hire African Americans and New Hampshire made it possible for Cromwell to earn his license because it did not yet have an experience requirement. Cromwell continued to teach and was later controller at Howard University.Learn More at the Black CPA Centennial website On evenings and weekends, he worked as a CPA for Black-owned businesses in the D.C. area.

Joe J. Cramer, Jr., CPA, PhD

became the sixty-third African-American CPA in 1961 and the ninth African American to hold a doctorate in accounting when he earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1963, and was the first Black tenure-track accounting professor at a predominantly white institution.

To learn more about Dr. Cramer's contributions to our profession, see this panel with three of his former students and his three children, click here.

He was an influential researcher and published in many top journals, including four sole-authored articles in The Accounting Review. At Penn State, he earned promotion to full professor, served as department chair, and in 1974 was named Arthur Anderson Faculty Fellow in the College of Business Administration. He went on to become Associate Dean of the Business School at Howard University in Washington D.C.

Dr. Cramer also served on the AICPA's Committee on Recruitment from Disadvantaged Groups and the AAA's Minority Faculty Development Committee. In both his academic and service roles, he mentored and championed Black undergraduate and graduate students. He died in 1986 at the age of 48 due to HIV-related illness.

Mary T. Washington

was the first African-American woman to earn a CPA. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on April 21, 1906, she was raised by her grandparents in Chicago. She excelled as a math student, earning her bachelor's degree in business from Northwestern University in 1941.

She founded an accounting firm in 1939; today Washington, Pittman and McKeever, LLC is one of the most successful firms in the nation. By the 1960s, Washington had provided the experience requirement to more Black CPAs than any other member of the profession, many of whom went on to leadership positions in government and business in Chicago.

In 2006 her partner Lester McKeever joined with the Illinois CPA Society and the CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois to establish the Mary T. Washington Wylie Opportunity Fund to support diversity in the accounting profession.