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Centennial Celebrates First Black CPA

The Black CPA Centennial is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the First Black CPA, John W. Cromwell Jr.  The articles published by the collaborative effort is the first of a series about 100 Black CPAs.

Cromwell (1883-1971) was the son of a former slave John Cromwell Sr. who received a law degree from Howard University. Cromwell Jr. became the nation’s black CPA in 1921, 25 years after the first CPA law was passed in New York in 1896.

Cromwell, who taught himself accounting, graduated from college in 1906, but was blocked from qualifying to take the CPA exam because most states required exam candidates for work for a licensed CPA at an accounting firm. Firms generally refused to hire blacks.

Finally Cromwell was able to take the Uniform CPA Examination when New Hampshire dropped its experience requirement. He continued to teach and spent three years as the comptroller of Howard.

He also performed accounting services for business in the black community in Washington D.C. 

Following Cromwell, it took 45 years for the first 100 accountants to be licensed in the United States. Still, blacks represent less than 1 percent of accountants in this country.

The Centennial is a year-long awareness campaign that has been brought about by the  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Diverse Organization of Firms Inc., Illinois CPA Society, National Association of Black Accountants Inc., and National Society of Black CPAs Inc. 

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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