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Denzel Washington 

(from l-r)  Set It Off actress: Vivica Fox, Kimberly Elise, Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah


The first Black drama group, the African Company, produced plays at the African Grove in New York City in the 1820s.

The first Broadway production with an all-Black company was John W. Isham's 1896 production of Oriental America.

The first Black musical comedy produced, directed and managed by Blacks was Bob Cole's A Trip to Coontown, which opened in New York in 1898 and ran for three seasons.

The first Broadway play by a Black writer was the 1925 production of Garland Anderson's Appearances.

The first Black recording artists were probably Bert William's and George Walker, who cut several numbers for the Victor Talking Machine Company on October 11, 1901.

The first Black actor to star in a full-length film was Sam Lucas, who played the title role in the 1914 film Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The first Black film was The Railroad Porter, a 1912 comedy directed by Bill Foster, a pioneer Black filmmaker.

The first Black movie production company was the Lincoln Motion Picture Company-angeles in 1915 by two Black actors, Clarence Brooks and Noble Johnson, Black druggist James T. Smith and a White cameraman Harry Grant.

The first full-length Black sound films were Hearts in Dixie, a 1929 production which has been called "the first real talking picture," and Hallelujah, a 1929 movie which starred Daniel Haynes.

The first modern film produced by a Black was Harry Belafonte's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

The first film with a script by Black writers (Langston Hughes and Clarence Muse) was Way Down South (1939).

The first modern film directed by a Black was Gordon Park's The Learning Tree (1969).

The first Black honored by the Motion Picture Academy was Hattie McDaniel, who received an Oscar in 1940 for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind, which was criticized by Blacks for its distortion of history and the Black personality.

The first Black to receive an Academy Award for best actor of the year was Sidney Poitier, who was cited in 1963 for his performance in Lilies of the Field.

The first Black to perform with an American Opera Company was Caterina Jarboro, who was featured in a Chicago Opera Company production of Aida in July, 1933.

The first Black signed by the Metropolitan Opera was Marian Anderson, who appeared as "Ulrica" in Verdi's Masked Ball on January 7, 1955.

The first Black with his own network radio show was pianist-singer Nat King Cole.  The show ran for 78 weeks in 1945-46 on NBC radio and was sponsored by a hair tonic manufacturer.

The first Black with his own network TV show was Nat King Cole.  The Nat King Cole Show ran for 64 weeks in 1956-57 on NBC-TV.

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