Government

Anderew Brimmer

William E. Sauro/The New York Times Andrew F. Brimmer in 1974, shortly after he resigned from the Fed board.

William E. Sauro/The New York Times
Andrew F. Brimmer in 1974, shortly after he resigned from the Fed board.

Andrew F. Brimmer, a Louisiana sharecropper’s son, was the first black member of the Federal Reserve Board.  Dr. Brimmer, an economist, held a number of high-ranking posts in Washington and taught at Harvard, but the economic conditions of poor, powerless, uneducated blacks was an abiding concern. He spoke about what he called the “schismâ€� between blacks who were educated and had marketable skills and those who did not. In later years he spoke frequently about how government policies no longer supported programs to help blacks enter the economic mainstream.

Dr. Brimmer was the assistant secretary of commerce for economic affairs when President Lyndon B. Johnson named him to the Fed board in 1966.

At the time, the Federal Reserve was bitterly divided over monetary policy. The chairman, William McChesney Martin Jr., threatened to resign if Mr. Johnson appointed a liberal who would vote in favor of lower interest rates.  Continue reading

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Patrick Francis Healy (February 27, 1830 – January 10, 1910) was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. He was accepted as and identified as Irish-American. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy’s tenure and is named after him.

In the 1960s the history of Healy’s mixed-race ancestry became more widely known, and he was recognized as the first American of African ancestry to earn a PhD; the first to become a Jesuit priest; and the first to be president of a predominantly white college.

Oscar J Dunn

Oscar James Dunn, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana 1868-1871

Oscar James Dunn, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana 1868-1871

Oscar James Dunn (1826 – November 22, 1871) was one of three African Americans who served as a Republican Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction. In 1868, Dunn became the first elected black lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. He ran on the ticket headed by Henry Clay Warmoth, formerly of Illinois. After Dunn died in office, then-state Senator P. B. S. Pinchback, another black Republican, became lieutenant governor and thereafter governor for a 34-day interim period.

On December 22, 1866, Dunn testified before a select committee appointed to investigate the New Orleans Riot of July 30, 1866. He told the committee that he was “born in New Orleans in 1826 and was about forty-one years old”. His parents were James and Maria Dunn. His father, James Dunn of Petersburg, Virginia, had been emancipated in 1819 by James H. Caldwell in New Orleans. James Dunn became a free man of color and later emancipated his wife, Maria, and their two children, Oscar and Jane, in 1832. James Dunn worked as a carpenter for James H. Caldwell (founder of the St. Charles Theatre and New Orleans Gas Light Company); Maria Dunn ran a boarding house for actors and actresses that came to perform at the Caldwell theatres.  Continue reading

George L. Brown

George L. Brown

George L. Brown

George Leslie Brown (July 1, 1926 – March 31, 2006) was an American politician. He served in the Colorado Senate from 1955 to 1974 and as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Colorado from 1975 to 1979. He was also a Sr. Vice President with Grumman Corporation. During World War II, he served as a Tuskegee Airman. Together with California’s Mervyn Dymally, he was one of the first two Black lieutenant-governors sinceReconstruction and outside of any southern state.

Growing up on a farm in Kansas, Brown was a star athlete in basketball, football and track before graduating from Lawrence Liberty Memorial High School in 1944. Brown graduated from the University of Kansas in 1950 with a B.S. in journalism. He also did graduate work at Harvard Business School, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.  Continue reading

Ending Slavery in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia, which became the nation’s capital in 1791, was by 1862 a city of contrasts: a thriving center for slavery and the slave trade, and a hub of anti-slavery activity among abolitionists of all colors. Members of Congress represented states in which slavery was the backbone of the economy, and those in which slavery was illegal.

One result of the intense struggle over slavery was the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, passed by the Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate. It is this legislation, and the courage and struggle of those who fought to make it a reality, that we commemorate every April 16, DC Emancipation Day.

Though the Compensated Emancipation Act was an important legal and symbolic victory, it was part of a larger struggle over the meaning and practice of freedom and citizenship. These two words continue to be central to what it means to be a participating member of society. We invite you to think about what these concepts have meant in the past and what they mean to you today.

by Mayor Vincent C. Gray

Upcoming Black History Posts
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