September 1


September 1, 1948 William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. became the first African American to serve as a United States Supreme Court Clerk. Coleman was born July 7, 1920 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941 and his Bachelor of Laws degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1946. Coleman was one of the lead strategist and co-author of the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Coleman earned his Doctor of Laws degree from Bates College in 1975 and that same year was appointed Secretary of Transportation by President Gerald Ford, making him the second African American to serve in a U.S. presidential cabinet. Coleman served in that capacity for a little less than two years before returning to private law practice. In 1995, Coleman was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President William Clinton. In 2004, he was appointed to the United States Court of Military Commission Review. In 2011, Coleman was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Gettysburg College.


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