Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. became the first African American General in the United States Army on October 25, 1940.
General Davis was born in Washington, DC on July 1, 1877. Davis attended Howard University and later after the beginning of the Spanish-American War joined the military on July 13, 1898 and became a temporary first lieutenant in the all African American 8th United States Volunteer Infantry Unit. In March of 1899 Davis was mustered out of the volunteer service and he later re-enlisted in the regular army as a private in the Buffalo Soldiers 9th Calvary Regiment in June of 1899. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on February 2, 1901.
The rest really is history, Davis moved upward in the military to become the first African American General in the Army. He participated in the Spanish American War, Phillipine-American War, World War I and World War II. As a soldier he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, Croix de Guerre with Palm from France and the Star of Africa from Liberia. Davis also served as a professor of military science and tactics at Wilberforce University and Tuskegee Institute. His son, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. became the first African American General in the United States Air Force. General Davis died on November 26, 1970 in Chicago, Illinois at age 93.
Words That Matter
General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
“I did my duty. That’s what I set out to do – to show that I could make my way if I knew my job.”