A White-Collar Profession

African American Certified Public Accountants since 1921

By Theresa A. Hammond

232 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 illus., 1 table, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5377-1
    Published: May 2002
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7494-3
    Published: January 2003
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7341-5
    Published: January 2003

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Among the major professions, certified public accountancy has the most severe underrepresentation of African Americans: less than 1 percent of CPAs are black. Theresa Hammond explores the history behind this statistic and chronicles the courage and determination of African Americans who sought to enter the field. In the process, she expands our understanding of the links between race, education, and economics.

Drawing on interviews with pioneering black CPAs, among other sources, Hammond sets the stories of black CPAs against the backdrop of the rise of accountancy as a profession, the particular challenges that African Americans trying to enter the field faced, and the strategies that enabled some blacks to become CPAs. Prior to the 1960s, few white-owned accounting firms employed African Americans. Only through nationwide networks established by the first black CPAs did more African Americans gain the requisite professional experience. The civil rights era saw some progress in integrating the field, and black colleges responded by expanding their programs in business and accounting. In the 1980s, however, the backlash against affirmative action heralded the decline of African American participation in accountancy and paved the way for the astonishing lack of diversity that characterizes the field today.

About the Author

Theresa A. Hammond is professor of accounting at the Lam Family College of Business at San Francisco State University.
For more information about Theresa A. Hammond, visit the Author Page.


"Well-researched and capturing superbly the texture of the social, political, and economic circumstances of the times, [this] study provides a valuable perspective on the exclusivity of the accounting field. . . . An important book that will undoubtedly stand for many years as the primary resource on the participation of African Americans in accounting during the twentieth century."--Business History Review

"Theresa Hammond's A White-Collar Profession is a necessary addition to the library of anyone who has an interest in understanding the challenges faced by minorities trying to break down racial barriers in an overwhelmingly white profession."--Minority MBA

"[One] can sincerely appreciate the struggle of the African-American CPA as chronicled in this exceptional book."--CPA Journal

"This is an important book. A seminal study of blacks in the accounting field, it also makes significant contributions to the fields of African American, education, and business history. Hammond's impressive research provides a model for those who seek to examine and document black participation in other professions. Her case studies of well-prepared, superbly trained professionals who were denied jobs movingly illustrates the full extent of racism in America before Civil Rights legislation."--Juliet E. K. Walker, University of Texas at Austin

"Despite enormous obstacles, a number of courageous African Americans persevered to earn the prestigious CPA credential during the twentieth century, and Hammond poignantly chronicles their saga. Her research will help readers realize that a more diverse profession is in both their ethical and their economic interests, resulting--we can hope--in a happier tale about the twenty-first century."--Robert K. Elliott, past chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

"Finally, a scholar has focused our attention on the struggle for racial equality in the professions. . . . A White-Collar Profession is must reading for anyone who wishes to understand racial progress and institutional change. It is a thoroughly engaging and well-researched chronicling of the African American experience in one of the nation's most important and prominent professions. Hammond has broken new ground in the study of race and business."--David A. Thomas, Harvard University