John Wesley Cromwell Jr., Black Educator Hall of Fame

E’ry day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer.

But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month. February is just the Blackest.

Today, our featured Black educator is John Wesley Cromwell Jr.

John Wesley Cromwell Jr. was the son of educator and activist John Wesley Cromwell. He was born in Washington D.C. on November 2, 1883. Cromwell Jr. Cromwell attended a college preparatory program at Howard and studied mathematics and astronomy at Dartmouth College, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and winning the Thayer Prize in mathematics there. He also earned his master’s degree at Dartmouth.

Cromwell desired to become a certified public accountant (CPA). However, to be a CPA, you had to apprentice with a CPA, and racism prevented Cromwell from obtaining the apprenticeship that he needed. As a result, after finishing at Dartmouth, Cromwell returned home to Washington D.C. and became a mathematics teacher at the prestigious Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he was most beloved as a teacher of German, Latin, and mathematics from 1907 to 1930.

15 years after graduating from undergrad in 1921, New Hampshire passed legislation enabling candidates to obtain their CPA license without an experience requirement. Cromwell made his way to New Hampshire, took the CPA exam, and passed, becoming the first Black CPA in the United States. In 1930, he became comptroller at Howard University, and in 1933 he began his practice as an attorney in Washington D.C.

He worked mostly within the Black community providing service to churches, funeral homes, restaurants, and lawyers.

Sadly, by the early 1960s, John Cromwell was still the only Black CPA in the District of Columbia – some 40 years after he earned his license. Today, thanks to Cromwell’s example of determination, there are over 5,000 Black CPAs and the numbers are steadily growing. Cromwell passed away in his home at the age of 71.

John Wesley Cromwell Jr.; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.

For more information on John Wesley Cromwell Jr., visit the following site.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Up Next