William Louis Campfield (1912–1993), in 1951 became the first Black CPA Ph.D. and was also the first Black CPA in North Carolina and the first Black person inducted into Beta Alpha Psi.
Along with the other first five in the category, at first Campfield had “had no chance at full-time positions in majority-white institutions, according to Theresa A. Hammond, Ph.D., accounting professor at San Francisco State University’s Lam Family College of Business and author of A White-Collar Profession: African American Certified Public Accountants Since 1921.
Campfield, who enrolled in New York University, then taught at the Tuskegee Institute in 1933. His parents were graduates and eight siblings attended a school on the Institute’s campus.
In 1951, he was hired as a lecturer, not a professor, at the University of San Francisco. Hammond noted no other faculty members, including the Dean, had a Ph.D. A year later, he took a government position in accounting and retired in 1972 as associate director of what was then called the U.S. General Accounting Office, now known as the Government Accountability Office,
Larzette Hale (1920–2015), in 1955 was the first Black woman CPA to receive a Ph.D. After being forced her father’s death and sent to an orphanage when her mother was no longer able to care for her, Hale learned bookkeeping at a business office.
Barred from attending Oklahoma’s two state university’s because of her race, she attended the state’s only historically Black College, Langston University and then received her master’s at the University of Wisconsin, with Oklahoma paying for her tuition.
While teaching at Atlanta’s Clark College, she took the CPA exam, but was asked to sit in the back of the room and wasn’t allowed to use the lunchroom.
Hale ran a solo practice but wanted to teach and later become the head of Utah State University’s school of accountancy and also taught at Langston and Brigham Young. She was appointed a regent of the Utah Board of Higher Education, the first Black person in that role.
The Black CPA Centennial celebration is a collaborative effort of the American Institute of CPAs, Diverse Organization of Firms, Illinois CPA Society, National Association of Black Accountants, and National Society of Black CPAs.