Magazine article The CPA Journal

A White-Collar Profession: African-American Certified Public Accountants since 1921

Magazine article The CPA Journal

A White-Collar Profession: African-American Certified Public Accountants since 1921

Article excerpt


The University of North Carolina Press; 232 pp.; hardcover, $339.95, ISBN. 080 782 7088; softcover, $1695, ISBN:080 7853 771

Reviewed by Raymond P. Jones, CFE, CPA, Watson Rice LLP

I was extremely moved by the history of the African-American CPA that this book presents, especially its portrayal of John W. Cromwell, the first African-American to receive licensure, in 1921. I have often heard of the difficult times experienced by those who have paved the way for me, but I never truly understood the complete history.

Theresa Hammond's chronicle begins in 1921 and takes the reader up to the present day. African-Americans often hear the phrase "We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us," but this phrase is much more significant for those who have become CPAs in the past 30 years. Hammond describes one of the challenges of obtaining the experience requirements necessary to receive the CPA accreditation. Many early African American CPAs were forced to wait years to obtain their license because they could not secure employment due to racial prejudice, which was sometimes attributable to clients that did not want AfricanAmericans working on their engagements, thereby discouraging firms from hiring them. Some of the first African-- American CPAs, although they were few in number, established firms and then employed other African-American to provide them with experience and, ultimately, their licenses.This was true in the case of Lucas and Tucker, an African-American CPA firm founded by Wilmer Lucas and Alfred Tucker to help others break into the profession that grew into a powerhouse in the late 1960s and early '70s.

The rate of growth for African-- Americans in the professions was slower in accounting than in medicine or law. This reflected the needs within the African-American community. As business and commerce grew, so did the accounting profession and the need within the African-American community for CPAs. African-American CPA firms had to rely upon the development of their own communities in order to expand. Developing large firms was difficult, however, because of the lack of industry in the African-American community. …

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