Barbara Hancock Became the First Black Woman to Earn White House Fellowship Today in 1974

0 Posted by - April 18, 2024 - On This Date

Photo credits: The Los Angeles Sentinel

Founded in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program is one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service.

White House Fellowships offer exceptional young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. Selected individuals typically spend a year working as a full-time, paid Fellow to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials.

Fellows also participate in an education program consisting of roundtable discussions with leaders from the private and public sectors, and trips to study U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally. Fellowships are awarded on a strictly non-partisan basis.

The mission of the non-partisan White House Fellows Program, as envisioned by President Johnson, was in his words, “To give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”

However, an amazing breakthrough was made on September 25, 1974. On that day, Barbara W. Hancock (pictured center in the dark dress) became the first black woman in American history to become a White House Fellow. She was then an educated young lady who earned the prestigious fellowship after going through the general application process.

Hancock’s historic fellowship was made official by the administration of U.S. President Gerald Ford.


*Black Then writer/historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report

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