Janet Collins was the first and only African American to become Prima Ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1951). That was almost 65 years ago and she alone today still holds that accomplishment.
"Though born into slavery Biddy Mason gained freedom for herself and her children in 1856. Only ten years later she had saved enough money to purchase property, making her the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles. A nurse and midwife by profession, she helped found the first elementary school for African American children in Los Angeles."