Producer: Jerald Harkness | Executive Producer: Kweku Hayford

TRUE FIRST

LEGENDS OF AFRICAN DESCENT AND THEIR UNTOLD STORIES

a docu-drama series that celebrates forgotten trailblazers and pioneers

Before the Legend Came the True First.

In all of human achievement someone strode ahead, forging the path so that others might follow. The acclaim, however, was often bestowed upon another. History has all but forgotten those of African descent who were swept aside in the tally of leaders. These are their stories.
Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka Wole Soyinka was born in Nigeria in 1934 when the country was still a British dominion. He was raised in an Anglican household...READ MORE

Season Five
Willie O’Ree
Willie O’Ree

Willie O’Ree To play in the National Hockey League, you’ve got to be tough. For Willie O’Ree, that meant hiding an injury that had left...READ MORE

Season Two
Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman As the child of Texas sharecroppers, Bessie Coleman had to walk four miles to her segregated school every day, never dreaming of the...READ MORE

Season Two
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf The woman who would become the first elected female head of state in Africa was born in the Liberian capital of Monrovia....READ MORE

Season Four
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey While neither forgotten nor ignored, Oprah Winfrey broke more barriers than any other figure in 20th century American history. She rose from an...READ MORE

Season Four
Berry Gordy
Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy The founder of Motown Records was born and raised in Detroit, moving through a variety of occupations before becoming a giant in the...READ MORE

Season Two
Samuel B. Fuller
Samuel B. Fuller

Samuel B. Fuller Samuel Fuller moved to Chicago in 1928 after an impoverished childhood in rural Louisiana. He held a variety of menial jobs before...READ MORE

Season Two
Winifred Atwell
Winifred Atwell

Winifred Atwell Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Winifred Atwell moved to London after the Second World War and studied piano at the Royal Academy of...READ MORE

Season Five
Wendell Scott
Wendell Scott

Wendell Scott NASCAR has been around since 1948, born from the enthusiasm of drivers who moved bootleg whiskey through the country in the years of...READ MORE

Season Two
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela was much more than South Africa’s first black head of state. He has become a world-wide symbol for peace, tolerance, social...READ MORE

Season Five
Guion Bluford
Guion Bluford

Guion Bluford The first African-American in space was born in Philadelphia and spent much of his career in the U.S. Air Force as both a...READ MORE

Season Four
George Crum
George Crum

George Crum French fries became a popular dish in American restaurants after Thomas Jefferson ordered that they be served at the White House in 1802....READ MORE

Season Three
Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Barack Obama Barack Obama’s political career unfolded beneath the gaze of a watchful nation that found itself able to embrace its first President of African...READ MORE

Season Two
Matthew Henson
Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson Robert Peary is widely recognised as the first man to reach the north pole (a claim later disputed) but at his side was...READ MORE

Season Four
Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah From the latter part of the 19th Century until 1957, what is now known as the Republic of Ghana was colonized by the...READ MORE

Season Five
Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier While many Americans claim the handsome film star as their own, Sidney Poitier grew up in the Bahamas and retained dual citizenship while...READ MORE

Season Five
Bass Reeves
Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves This legendary figure of the Wild West was the first black deputy U.S. Marshall to serve west of the Mississippi River. He was...READ MORE

Season One
Stage Coach Mary Fields
Stage Coach Mary Fields

Stage Coach Mary Fields The Montana law forbidding women to enter a saloon was never applied to Mary Fields. That’s because this gun-toting bad-ass was...READ MORE

Season One
Disco King Mario
Disco King Mario

Disco King Mario In the early years of hip hop DJs reigned supreme, the masters of ceremonies who were the stars in a distinctive street...READ MORE

Season One
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe This musical legend’s first professional partnership was with her mother, a Baptist singer and evangelical preacher in rural Arkansas. By the age...READ MORE

Season One
Simone Manuel
Simone Manuel

Simone Manuel Within days of her twentieth birthday, Simone Manuel became the first woman of African descent to win an Olympic gold medal in an...READ MORE

Season One
Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai The Nobel Peace Prize has only once been awarded to a recipient for their work in environmental protection, and that honour goes to...READ MORE

Season Five
Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean

Michaëlle Jean Canada’s first Governor General of African descent arrived in the country as a Haitian refugee in 1968. She was raised in Quebec and...READ MORE

Season Five
Doris Miller
Doris Miller

Doris Miller On December 7, 1941, hundreds of fighter planes descended on Pearl Harbour, a naval base near the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu. Killing over...READ MORE

Season Four
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver In 1941, Time Magazine called George Washington Carver a “black Leonardo,” comparing his genius to that of the famed Italian Renaissance inventor,...READ MORE

Season Four
Robert L. Johnson
Robert L. Johnson

Robert L. Johnson Born in Mississippi in 1946, this farmer’s son would go on to become the first black billionaire in the United States. Johnson...READ MORE

Season Four
Charlie Sifford
Charlie Sifford

Charlie Sifford Long before Tiger Woods there was Charlie Sifford. This native of North Carolina started working as a caddy when he was 13 years...READ MORE

Season Two
Dr. Ronald Mallet
Dr. Ronald Mallet

Dr. Ronald Mallet If you’ve ever been fascinated with the possibility of time travel, you’re in good company. Dr. Mallet has been gripped by the...READ MORE

Season Three
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman When Ornette Coleman first caught the attention of jazz enthusiasts in the late 1950s, they weren’t too sure what to think. He played...READ MORE

Season Three
Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm Although born in Brooklyn New York, the woman who was to become the first black candidate to run for a major party’s presidential...READ MORE

Season One
Moses Fleetwood Walker
Moses Fleetwood Walker

Moses Fleetwood Walker Almost 70 years before Jackie Robinson is credited with breaking the color barrier in baseball, there was Moses Walker. Walker played for...READ MORE

Season One
Shirley Ann Jackson
Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African-American woman to be awarded the National Medal of Science, an achievement that is but one...READ MORE

Season Three
Matt Baker
Matt Baker

Matt Baker The first black superhero to appear in a mainstream comic book was the Black Panther, making his debut in 1966. Marvel then brought...READ MORE

Season Three
Cato Alexander
Cato Alexander

Cato Alexander Mixology may sound to the layman like a fancy word for making cocktails, but its practitioners are deadly serious about their craft. What...READ MORE

Season Three
Ernest Everett Just
Ernest Everett Just

Ernest Everett Just Despite winning almost every academic award in his graduating year, Ernest Everett Just was passed over as the commencement speaker. It just...READ MORE

Season Three
John Richard Archer
John Richard Archer

John Richard Archer With his election to the office of Mayor of Battersea in 1913, Richard Archer became the first mayor of African descent in...READ MORE

Season Five
John H. Johnson
John H. Johnson

John H. Johnson The founder of the Johnson Publishing Company was the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people...READ MORE

Season Two
Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker From the cotton fields of Louisiana to the streets of Harlem, the story of this pioneering entrepreneur and activist is like no...READ MORE

Season Three
Sophia Danenburg
Sophia Danenburg

Sophia Danenburg Since 1953, approximately 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest and over 200 have died trying. At 2 a.m. on May 19, 2006, Danenburg...READ MORE

Season Four
Fredrick McKinley Jones
Fredrick McKinley Jones

Fredrick McKinley Jones Before Frederick McKinley Jones turned his mind to the problem, food transportation relied on getting to your destination before the ice in...READ MORE

Season One

a word from the team

Food for thought...

We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.

Jesse Owens

Recent Blog Posts

Explore the political, social and economic backdrop to the stories of True First.

Featured Team Members

These are some of the folk who have made True First a labor of discovery, celebration and love.

Kweku Hayford
Executive Producer
Lenny McAllister
Production Consultant
Ben Thompson
Interviewee & Author
Eric J. Arnold
Director of Photography
Kenneth Lee
Assistant Director & Line Producer

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