Tag: black Republicans

R.I.P. William T. Coleman Jr., 96, Who Broke Racial Barriers in Supreme Court and White House Cabinet

William T. Coleman Jr., then the secretary of transportation, testified in 1976 before a Senate subcommittee. (Credit: Harvey Georges/Associated Press)

article by  via nytimes.com

William T. Coleman Jr., who championed the cause of civil rights in milestone cases before the Supreme Court and who rose above racial barriers himself as an influential lawyer and as a cabinet secretary, died Friday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers, where Mr. Coleman was a senior partner in its Washington office. He lived at a care facility with his wife of more than 70 years, Lovida Coleman. A lifelong Republican, Mr. Coleman was as comfortable in the boardrooms of powerful corporations — PepsiCo, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank — as he was in the halls of government.

He was the second African-American to serve in a White House cabinet, heading the Department of Transportation. Mr. Coleman found success on the heels of a brilliant academic career, but he did so in the face of bigotry — what he called “the more subtle brand of Yankee racism” — from which his middle-class upbringing in Philadelphia did not shield him. In one episode, his high school disbanded its all-white swimming team rather than let him join it.

Those experiences would inform his efforts in three major civil rights cases before the United States Supreme Court. In one, Mr. Coleman, recruited by Thurgood Marshall, was an author of the legal briefs that successfully pressed the court to outlaw segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Ten years later, he argued a case that led to a Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutionality of racially mixed sexual relations and cohabitation. (McLaughlin v. Florida, in which the Supreme Court overturned a Florida law that prohibited an interracial couple from living together under the state’s anti-miscegenation statutes.) And in 1982, he argued that segregated private schools should be barred from receiving federal tax exemptions. The court agreed.

Mr. Coleman was appointed transportation secretary by President Gerald R. Ford in March 1975, a little more than six months after Ford, who had been vice president, succeeded President Richard M. Nixon after Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate affair. Mr. Coleman, a corporate lawyer with expertise in transportation issues, was on the Pan Am board of directors at the time.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/us/politics/william-coleman-jr-dies.html?_r=0

R.I.P. Edward Brooke, 1st Black Senator Elected by Popular Vote

Edward William Brooke III, the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote and the first Republican senator to call for the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal, died Saturday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95.

He died from natural causes, said his former legislative aid, Ralph Neas.

In 1966, Brooke ran for the Senate from Massachusetts and became the first black elected to serve in the upper chamber by popular vote, and the first to be sworn in as a senator since Hiram Revels and Blanche Kelso Bruce were sent to Washington during the post Civil War Reconstruction-era by a “carpetbag” Mississippi Legislature.

Upon his arrival in Washington, Brooke automatically achieved a number of social firsts, according to his memoirs, integrating both the Senate swimming pool and the Senate barber shop.

In winning election, Brooke joined a small band of liberal Republicans in the Senate during an era of moderation, when centrist voices like Jacob Javits of New York, Charles Percy of Illinois and Mark Hatfield of Oregon influenced political debate. Brooke supported housing and other anti-poverty programs, advocated for a stronger Social Security system and for an increased minimum wage, and promoted commuter rail and mass transit systems.

He also bedeviled the Nixon White House – criticizing the administration for adopting a cynical “Southern strategy” of wooing Southern whites by not enforcing civil rights laws, sponsoring a resolution calling for an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam and opposing three of the president’s conservative nominees to the Supreme Court.

article by Johanna Neuman via latimes.com