Part 4 of 10
In honor of Black History Month, NCACPA would like to celebrate the diverse individuals who contributed to the success of the accounting profession and the association. Please join us in recognizing these trailblazers through a 10-part series of posts being published throughout February.
By D. Scott Showalter, CPA, CGMA, CGFM, Immediate Past Chair, NCACPA Board
The individuals highlighted in this series of posts represent minorities and have all made significant contributions to the accounting profession during their careers despite the many challenges they faced.
I’ll introduce everyone by asking a question that describes their respective contribution. I apologize in advance for any factual inaccuracies in this article. While researching, I ran across conflicting dates and proofs, settling on the facts that seem best supported. Either way, I don’t think it distracts from their significant accomplishments.
Who was the first African American woman CPA to earn a PhD in accounting? She graduated, summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree in business administration and secondary education from Langston University in 1937. After graduation, this individual worked as a secretary to a business manager at the university. Later in 1943, she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied accounting and finance. She and her husband then taught at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in Atlanta. While there, she established a friendship with a prominent CPA in the area who helped establish and tutor a study group for African Americans to pass the CPA exam. She passed in 1951 and in 1955, she was the first African American female to earn a PhD in accounting.
In 1966, she was elected as the 17th International President of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Inc. Later in 1968, she began the Heritage Series and produced more than 5,000 copies of booklets on the accomplishments of contemporary African American women. In 1974, she was appointed by the governor of Utah to the State’s Committee on Cultural Awareness. In 1990, she became the first African American to serve as National President of Beta Alpha Psi. Who is this individual? Her name is Larzette Hale-Wilson.