- William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr.
name =William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr.
small| caption =
office =United States Secretary of Transportation
March 7, 1975
January 20, 1977
birth_date = Birth date and age|1920|7|7|mf=y
Lovida H. Coleman, Jr., William T. Coleman III, Hardin L. Coleman
footnotes = |
William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. (born
July 7, 1920in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) was the fourth United States Secretary of Transportation, from March 7, 1975to January 20, 1977, and the second African Americanto serve in the Cabinet. Coleman was also a distinguished lawyer who, with Thurgood Marshall, has played a major role in significant civil rightscases.
Gerald Fordappointed Coleman to serve as the nation's fourth Secretary of Transportation on March 7, 1975. Coleman attended local public schools before graduating summa cum laudefrom the University of Pennsylvaniain 1941 and magna cum laudefrom Harvard Law Schoolin 1946. He was elected to the Pi Gamma Muinternational honor society upon graduation from the University of Pennsylvania.
He began his legal career in 1947, serving as
law clerkto Judge Herbert F. Goodrichof the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuitand clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurterin 1948. He was the first African American to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk. [Linda Greenhouse, "Supreme Court Memo; Women Suddenly Scarce Among Justices' Clerks," The New York Times, August 30, 2006.] Coleman was one of the lead strategists and coauthor of the legal brief in " Brown v. Board of Education" (1954) in which the U.S. Supreme Court held racial segregationin public schools to be unconstitutional.
He served as a member of the
NAACP's national legal committee, director and member of its executive committee, and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Coleman was also a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Committee on Government Employment Policy(1959-1961), a senior consultant and assistant counsel to the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy(1964), and a consultant to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency(1963-1975).
In 1969, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the twenty-fourth session of the
United NationsGeneral Assembly. Coleman was also a member of the National Commission on Productivity(1971-1972). He was senior partner in the law firm of Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, Levy & Coleman at the time of his appointment to the Ford administration.
During Coleman's tenure at the Department, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's automobile test facility at East Liberty, Ohiocommenced operations, and the department established the Materials Transportation Bureauto address pipeline safety and the safe shipment of hazardous materials. On leaving the Department, Coleman returned to Philadelphia, but subsequently became a partner in the Washington office of the Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny and Myers. In 1996, in the wake of the July 17crash of TWAFlight 800, he served on the President's Commission on Airline and Airport Security. That same year, Coleman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians by the United States. Coleman received a LL.D.from Bates Collegein 1975.
In 1983, with the election quickly approaching, the Reagan administration stopped supporting the IRS's position against Bob Jones University that overtly discriminatory groups were ineligible for certain tax exemptions. Coleman was appointed to argue the now unsupported lower court position before the Supreme Court, and won in
Bob Jones University v. United States.
Coleman is a member of
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.
In December 2006, Coleman served as an
Honorary Pallbearerduring the State Funeralof former President Gerald R. Fordin both Washington, D.C.and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Coleman was the only African-American invited to participate in that capacity during the former President's funeral ceremonies.
* [http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/exhibits/cabinet/coleman.htm Biography at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum]
* [http://www.americanpresident.org/history/geraldford/cabinet/transportation/transportationCopy1/ Biography at AmericanPresident.org]
* [http://www.visionaryproject.com/colemanwilliam William Coleman's oral history video excerpts] at The National Visionary Leadership ProjectLeadership Project]
* [http://www.ali.org/ali/R2203_medal.htm] ALI Reporter
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