Meet The First Black Woman to Become a Certified Public Accountant in the United States



Mary T. Washington Wylie made history when she became the first Black woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the United States. She was also the 13th Black CPA in the country.

Wylie’s CPA designation and accounting firm opened the doors for the next generation of Black CPAs. It became the learning laboratory that gave birth to many of the first 100 Black CPAs in the country.

“Ms. Washington was a perfectionist and expected high-performance. She was a taskmaster but she was also kind and nurturing,” says Lester McKeever, one of the first 100 Black CPAs and former chairman of the Chicago Federal Reserve. “She was responsible for so many young men and women becoming licensed CPAs. Her firm was the only place where someone could get experience even after passing the CPA exam. She always wanted to help and encourage young people, introduce them to the profession, and guide them.”


The Road to Becoming a Certified Public Accountant

It has been said that becoming a CPA is a more difficult task than conquering the Bar exam for lawyers. Today, you need a Bachelor’s degree in addition to extra learning hours in specific subjects. Most obtain a Master’s Degree to fulfill the education requirements. Candidates also have to pass a series of exams and gain experience to obtain the license. To maintain the CPA license, individuals must commit to continuing education.

As challenging as the process to become a CPA may appear, it was widely known that being a Black person presented an even greater barrier.

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