Commemoration of Battle
Carving a Pathway to Justice:
Mentorship & Consciousness
Samuel J. Battle
In 1911 Samuel J. Battle (1883-1966) became the first African-American appointed to the NYPD. He served the 38th Precinct in Harlem for many years. He became the first African-American to become Sergeant in 1926, and the first African-American Lieutenant in 1935.
Battle was the first African-American hired in the NYPD in 1911 after the five boroughs consolidated in 1898. Battle would go on to become the first sergeant of color in 1926, then a lieutenant in 1935. After 30 years on the force, Battle then became the first African-American parole commissioner in 1941, a position he held for 10 years.
In a 1936 interview, Battle said, “What we want is an equal opportunity to enjoy life and to make our own way. Make your own opportunities. When you see them, take hold of them and never give up.”