Black History Month Firsts


Since 1839, when John Carter – a barber – walked down Saginaw Street, Black citizens have been an important and influential piece of Flint’s great history. They have changed the city for the better in the realms of education, commerce, health and Civil Rights, and continue to do so. They fought for much-deserved recognition and fair treatment, changing the entire country in the process. In honor of Black History Month, My City Magazine has compiled a list to recognize the African-Americans who have led the way to become the first of their own in the city.

  1. John Carter – Considered Flint’s first Black resident (1839)
  2. Dr. John Wesley Moore – First Physician (1919)
  3. Dr. Jesse Leonidas Leach – First on the Staff of City Physicians, First on Flint Board of Supervisors, first Chairman of the Genesee County Board of Health and First City Medical Examiner (1919-1940)
  4. Archie Parks – First police officer (1931)
  5. Lois F. VanZandt – First hired by the Flint School System (1942)
  6. Marian Coates – First classroom teacher (1943)
  7. George Friley – First Chairman of the Genesee County Board of Supervisors (1955)
  8. Joe Davis – First Firefighter (1961)
  9. Ollie Bivens Jr. – First City Municipal Judge (1963)
  10. Dr. T. Wendell Williams – First elected to the Flint Board of Education (1963)
  11. Floyd McCree – First Mayor of Flint (1966)
  12. Dr. Clarence Kimbrough – First President of the Flint Board of Education (1968)
  13. William Prince, Jr. – First head of Genesee County Bar Association (1971)
  14. Helen Harris – First woman on Flint Board of Education (1971)
  15. Ailene Butler – First woman elected to Flint City Council (1973)
  16. James Sharp – First Flint Mayor elected by popular vote (1984)
  17. Dr. Nathel Burtley –  First Superintendent of Schools (1988)
  18. Karen Weaver – First woman Mayor of Flint (2015)

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