June 15

June 15, 1877 – Henry O. Flipper Graduates From West Point

Henry O. Flipper

Henry O. Flipper

Henry Ossian Flipper on June 15, 1877 became the First African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856 to Festus and Isabelle Flipper.  While a freshman at Atlanta University, Congressman James C. Freeman recommended Flipper for attendance at West Point where he was one of five African Americans.  Flipper was the first to graduate and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army.  He was assigned to become the first African American officer to lead buffalo soldiers in the 10th Calvary.  While serving Flipper’s Commanding Officer falsely accused him of embezzlement of which he was acquitted, but Flipper was still dismissed from the army for conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.  Flipper fought for years to correct his record.  He died in Atlanta, Georgia in 1940 at age 84.  Twenty six years after Flippers death in 1976, the Army overturned the court martial and granted him an honorable discharge.   In 1999, Flipper received a full pardon from President Bill Clinton.