Profiles of Bravery

General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr.

First African American general officer in the Active-Duty Army

Benjamin Davis

Gen. Benjamin O. Davis entered the service during the War with Spain as a temporary first lieutenant of the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry. In 1899, he was discharged from the service. In June of the same year, he again enlisted, this time as a private in the 9th Cavalry. He then served as corporal and squadron sergeant major, and on Feb. 2, 1901, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Cavalry. In 1940, he became the first african american General Officer in the U.S. Armed Forces, earning the rank of brigadier general. Gen. Davis served as an inspector for the Inspector General and later as a special investigator for the Secretary of War's Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies. His investigations of discrimination and racial disturbances brought to light the problems of a racially closed military.

Go back to profiles