We celebrate Black History Month and the significant achievements of Black Americans that have been trailblazers in the accounting profession.

This year commemorates the centennial celebration of John W. Cromwell, Jr. becoming the first Black CPA in the U.S. In 1921, John W. Cromwell, Jr. received this landmark achievement 25 years after the first certified public accountant (CPA) certificate was granted in the U.S. Cromwell graduated from Dartmouth in 1906, then in 1907, he earned a Masters degree. Cromwell was not allowed to sit for the CPA exam in Washington, D.C., Virginia, or Maryland. Plus, all places had experience requirements which proved to be the biggest barrier to African Americans becoming CPAs. It took Cromwell 15 years to receive his public accountant certification. Luckily, in 1921, New Hampshire passed legislation no longer mandating the experience requirement which allowed Cromwell the opportunity to take the exam. After becoming a CPA, he taught high school Accounting in D.C. In 1930, he became Comptroller of Howard University. In the early 1960s, 40 years after he earned his certificate, John Cromwell was still the only African-American CPA in our nation’s capital.

This year various organizations have come together to announce a year-long national awareness campaign that recognizes Black CPAs in America and pushes for greater progress to be made in achieving diversity, inclusion, and equity in the industry. The shared goal of the Black CPA Centennial campaign is to “honor, celebrate, and build” upon the rich history and progress Black CPAs have made in the profession.

According to estimates by the National Association of Black Accountants, Black CPAs account for less than 1% of all CPA’s in the U.S.

At Bregante + Company LLP, we are fortunate to serve a diverse client population within the Bay Area. In order to match that population, we understand the importance and value of modeling our organization to match it. We strive to shape not just our firm, but the CPA industry as a whole by supporting and advancing the path for all minorities.

We invite you to learn more about prominent Black accountants in history and the Black CPA Centennial campaign by visiting http://icpas.org/BlackCPAcentennial.