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André Willis

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923, a time when very few African Americans gained admittance to Ivy League schools. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Between 1933 and 1935 Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Although the prevailing racial climate made it difficult for him to break into national politics, Alexander was appointed honorary consul to the Republic of Haiti in 1938. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Ethiopia in 1951, but although he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958 Alexander committed himself to ...

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David Alvin Canton

lawyer and judge, was the third of five children born to Hillard Boone Alexander, a laborer from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Virginia Pace, from Essex County, Virginia. Alexander's parents were born slaves, but were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In 1880 they migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they lived in the Seventh Ward, a community that would later be made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1899 study The Philadelphia Negro. In 1903Alexander's mother died of pneumonia. Because his father worked long hours, Alexander and his siblings moved to North Philadelphia to live with his maternal aunt, Georgia Chandler Pace From the age of seven Alexander attended school and worked at various jobs including dockworker newspaper boy general helper at the Metropolitan Opera House in North Philadelphia Pullman porter and when he was in his early twenties ...

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Debra A. Reid

foreign service official, was born in New York City to Wesley Orlando Thorburn and Amy Constantine, both of whom were Jamaican natives. His mother studied music at the Juilliard School of Music, and his father studied mechanical dentistry at Pennsylvania State University. Thorburn was the youngest of their three children. He lived in Jamaica for fifteen years and graduated from Wolmer's Boys School in 1945 before returning to the United States in 1946.

In 1947 Thorburn enrolled in Agricultural Economics and Extension Education, which prepared African American men for careers in segregated agricultural extension service offices in all of the ex-Confederate states as well as in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Federal Extension Service, at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, earning a BS in 1951 When Thorburn moved from his northern urban birthplace to prepare for a career in agriculture extension blacks employed in segregated agricultural extension service ...