Clifford Alexander, Jr. was the first Black person to serve as Secretary of the United States Army.
He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and served in the position until 1981.
The Secretary of the Army is the top non-military person in the Department of Defense. As secretary Clifford was responsible for recruiting people for the army. He was also responsible for preparing them for service and providing training that would help them become good soldiers.
Clifford worked for other presidents before Jimmy Carter. He advised President John F Kennedy on national security concerns and foreign affairs.
He was a champion for civil rights and worked for civil and equal rights for women and Black Americans. He pushed for President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After he signed the Act, President Johnson created the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Clifford would later serve as chairman of the commission from 1967 to 1969.
Clifford Alexander was born in New York City on September 21, 1933. He attended college at Harvard University and graduated in 1955. He then attended law school at Yale University and graduated in 1958.
After law school he served in the US National Guards for one year before becoming an assistant district attorney in New York. From 1973 to 1974 he was a law professor at historically Black Howard University Law School in Washington, DC.