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Robert Mason

lawyer and public official, was born William Thaddeus Coleman Jr. in the Germantown district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Thaddeus Coleman, a social worker, and Laura Beatrice Mason. His was a middle-class family with many of its members engaged in teaching, social work, and the church. Coleman attended an all-black elementary school in Germantown and a predominantly white high school, in which he was one of seven African American students.

Having harbored an ambition since childhood to be a lawyer, Coleman entered Harvard Law School in 1941 after graduating with a BA degree summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. Wartime service in the U.S. Army Air Corps interrupted his legal studies, which he completed in 1946 by gaining his LLB degree magna cum laude, first in his class. He married Lovida Hardin in 1945 they would have three children On leaving Harvard after an ...