On This Day: Henry Ossian Flipper is born
Photo: Photograph of Lt. Henry O. Flipper, circa 1877.
On this day in 1856, Henry Ossian Flipper was born. Flipper was born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia. During Reconstruction he attended Atlanta University. As a freshman, Representative James C. Freeman appointed him to attend West Point, joining four other black cadets. There they faced tremendous difficulty and discrimination from white students. Nonetheless, in 1877 he became the first African American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He would later earn a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to one of the four all-black “buffalo soldier” regiments, and become the first black commanding officer of regular troops in the U.S. Army.
Cadet Henry O. Flipper in his West Point cadet uniform.