Black History: Special Delivery!!

mary thelma washington
Mary Thelma Washington

Mary T. Washington (1906-2005), the first African American female CPA in the U.S. was born in Vickburg, MS. She went to live with her maternal grandparents in Chicago at the age of 6 when her mother died. After high school graduation, she took a job with Binga State Bank; a black owned bank. The bank’s vice president, Arthur Wilson, who was also her supervisor took note of her bookkeeping skills and encouraged her to pursue higher education. She enrolled in Northwestern University’s School of Business in Chicago. She was the only one in the program, as well as the only African American. Washington was very fair-skinned, her fellow students and instructors thought she was white. While still in school, Washington started a small business in her basement doing taxes in 1939. She focused on servicing small black-owned businesses in her area. She graduated from Northwestern in 1941. When she took the CPA exam she was the only woman to do so. In 1943, she became the 13th African American CPA in the U.S. and the first African American female to obtain a CPA license in the U.S. The firm she began in her basement continued to flourish and is still in operation today. Washington, Pittman, and McKeever is one of the largest African American owned firms in the U.S.

Mary T. Washington died in 2005 at age 99. For more information about Mary T. Washington, visit

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