I'm always enthralled by the stories of guys like Samuel Battle, the first African American in the New York Police Department. "Recalling First Black Appointed to New York Police Dept." by Samuel Roberts of The New York Times is an article I'd like to recommend. It starts this way:
"His parents were among the last generation born into Southern slavery, and his own birth in 1883 was notable for another benchmark: At 16 pounds, he was the biggest baby ever recorded in North Carolina.
" 'I guess I've always wanted to be large, and I have been large,' Samuel Jesse Battle recalled decades later."