Top 10 African American Army Generals of All Time

At one time, it was quite difficult for African Americans in the United States Army to get promoted. But times did change and the understanding that great leaders do not just come with white skin was evident.

Since the first, many African Americans have achieved the rank of General in the United States Army.

It is not an easy task, and I must say that this is just my opinion. But I am going to give you the top 10 African American Army Generals of all time.

You may not agree with my order and that is perfectly fine. I am using many variables in deciding this order. Variables such as:

  • Accomplishments
  • Units commanded
  • Charisma
  • Etc…

I will start at #10 and work up to the #1 African American General of all time.

Feel free to leave your opinions at the end of this post.

#10: Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick

General Bostick served with the United States Army from 1978 to 2016. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree and he went on to get a Masters degree in mechanical and civil engineering from Stanford University.

General Bostick was Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

#9: Major General Marcia Anderson

Major General Anderson has the distinction of being the first African American female to reach Major General. She served in the U.S. Army from 1976 to 2016. She graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1979. That is where she signed up for Reserve Officers Training Corps.

#8: Major General Fred Gorden

The year was 1958 and Fred Gorden was notified that he had been accepted as a cadet in the United States Military Academy. He would be the only African American cadet in that class.

General Gorden served 34 years in the United States Army. He spent 2 tours in Vietnam. Most notably, General Gorden was Commandant of Cadets at West Point in the late 1980’s.

#7: Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown 1927-2011

General Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1983. She had 2 firsts:

  • The first African American female general
  • The first black chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps

She was an inspiration and mentor to many female Army nurses.

#6: General Lloyd Austin III

General Austin served in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 2016. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1975 and went on to gain more education from Auburn and Webster Universities.

He has held a wide range of commands:

  • United States Central Command
  • Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
  • United States Forces – Iraq
  • XVIII Airborne Corps
  • 10th Mountain Division
  • 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division
  • 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Austin was also 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

#5: Lieutenant General Nadja West

General West began serving in 1982 and still does. As a matter of fact, General West became the 44th U.S. Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command.

General West West obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a Doctorate of Medicine from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1988.

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#4: General Vincent Brooks

General Brooks graduated from West Point in 1980 and entered the U.S. Army as an officer. He is currently the Commander of U.S. forces in Korea.

General Brooks has held various commands before his current one:

  • United Nations Command
  • ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command
  • U.S. Army Pacific
  • Third Army
  • 1st Infantry Division
  • 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

General Brooks has played a huge part in recent conflicts worldwide.

#3: General Roscoe Robinson Jr. 1928-1993

General Robinson has the distinction of being the first African American to reach 4 star General status.

General Robinson served for 34 years in the U.S. Army. He was involved in both Korean and Vietnam Wars. He commanded the 82nd Airborne Division and had served at the National War College for several years.

#2: General Benjamin Davis Sr. 1880-1970

General Davis is the first African American to attain the rank of General. He did so in 1940 during World War II. He held these commands:

  • 369th Infantry Regiment
  • 4th Cavalry Brigade

General Davis served in the Spanish American, Philippine American, World 1 and World 2 Wars.

#1: General Colin Powell

Not only was this man a General in the U.S. Army, he became the 65th Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

General Powell served in the Army from 1958-1993. He was involved in Vietnam, the Invasion of Panama and the Gulf War.

General Powell held these commands:

  • V Corps
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Army Forces Command

I had to give General Powell his spot in first because of his many accomplishments.

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Colin Powell

Final Thoughts

There have been and are more than 10 African Americans who have risen to General. These were my top 10 and yours may differ.

Feel free to share your comments and opinions below.

Thank you and have a great day.



About The Author

Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at

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