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William Thaddeus Coleman
William Thaddeus Coleman William Thaddeus Coleman


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William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr, was the first African American to clerk for a US Supreme Court justice, served as secretary of transportation under the Ford administration, and has helped try numerous important civil rights cases He was born on July 7, 1920, in the Germantown district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Thaddeus and Laura Beatrice Mason Coleman Coleman’s father was a director of the Germantown boys club for forty years, and as a result, Coleman met many African American notables at an early age, including WEB DuBois After attending an all-black segregated elementary school, Coleman attended the mostly-white Germantown High School After high school, Coleman attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated summa cum laude with his BA degree in 1941 Eager to work in law ever since childhood, Coleman attended Harvard Law School later that year.

In 1943, he joined the US Army Air Corps As defense counsel for eighteen courts-martial, he won acquittals for sixteen He returned to Harvard Law School after the war In 1946, Coleman received his LLB degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, after becoming the first African American man to serve on the board of editors of the Harvard Law Review He was a Langdell fellow, and was therefore permitted to stay at Harvard Law School to study for an extra year In 1947, he was admitted to the bar and obtained a job working as a law clerk with Judge Herbert F Goodrich of the Third Circuit’s US Court of Appeals.

The following year, he became US Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter’s law clerk, and as such, he was the first African American to clerk for the US Supreme Court In 1949, Coleman joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, a noted New York law firm, where he met Thurgood Marshall and worked pro bono to assist Marshall with NAACP cases In 1952, Coleman became the first African American to join an all-white firm, and in 1966, he became partner at Dilworth, Paxon, Kalish, Levy and Coleman Coleman worked in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1950s, including five cases for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) cases that led directly to the Brown v Board of Education decision He also served as co-counsel for McLaughlin v Florida, a case that decided the constitutionality of interracial marriages In 1959, President Eisenhower convinced Coleman to work on the President’s commission on employment policy; Coleman continued to work in presidential commissions for Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, including the Warren commission’s investigation of Kennedy’s assassination In 1971, Coleman was elected president of the NAACP-LDF In 1975, Coleman was appointed President Gerald Ford's Secretary of Transportation, becoming only the second African American to hold a cabinet-level position.

During his tenure, he created the first Statement of National Transportation Policy in US history When Carter became president in 1976, Coleman returned to the private sector, becoming a senior partner of the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers law firm In 1995, Coleman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the legal profession and to society .



 
I AM WILLIAM T COLEMAN
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2009 Hendricks Lecture - William T. Coleman
William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr., former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and first African-American to clerk for a U.S. Supreme Court justice, delivers ...
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This a segment form a May 18, 2005 interview with William T. Coleman, the first African American Supreme Court law clerk. He clerked in 1948 for Felix ...
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The Keynote speaker for the 50th celebration of the case of Brown v. Board II on May 18, 2005 was William T. Coleman, Jr. Among his many achievements was ...
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William T. Coleman "Counsel for the Situation: Shaping the Law to Realize America's Promise" March 30, 2011 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library Ann Arbor, ...
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Working on movement in the pocket w 2015 QB William Coleman of Hough High in Cornelius,NC.
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William T. Coleman (2005) on Brown v. Board
Vignettes from a May 18, 2005 interview of William T. Coleman at a Robert H. Jackson Center event honoring the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board II.
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NVLP records, preserves and shares the histories of extraordinary African American elders, passing on the African American tradition of social change.
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