As we are now celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States, I thought it might be a good time to honor two of the Virgin islands African American first’s, William Hastie and Melvin Evans.
Dr. William H. Hastie
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1904, William Hastie became the first African American Governor of the United States Virgin Islands in 1946 and served until to 1949. He later became the first African American judge on a US Federal appeals court and became Chief Judge of that court in 1968.
Hastie graduated magna cum laude at Amherst College and attended Harvard Law School receiving his doctorate there. He became a law professor at Howard University where one of his students, Thurgood Marshall, went on to become the first African American Justice of the US Supreme Court.
Melvin Herbert Evans
Born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands in 1917, Melvin Evans became the first popularly elected governor of the Virgin Islands (1970 -1975). Evans went on to become the first black delegate to represent the Virgin Islands in the US House of Representatives (1979–1981). He later served as US Ambassador to Triniad and Tobago until his death in 1984.