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Thu, 09.21.1933

Clifford Alexander, Lawyer born

Clifford Alexander

*Clifford Alexander was born on this date in 1933.  He is a Black lawyer, businessman, and public servant.  

Clifford Leopold Alexander Jr. was born in New York City.  His parents were Clifford Leopold Alexander and his wife. He attended the private Ethical Culture and Fieldston schools. Alexander graduated from Harvard College in 1955 and Yale Law School in 1958. He enlisted in the New York National Guard in 1958 and served briefly with the 369th Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Dix, New Jersey.   

He married Adele Logan in 1959. After earning her doctorate in history, she became a professor at George Washington University and specialized in African American history. They have a daughter, Elizabeth Alexander, and a son, Mark C. Alexander.  He served as an assistant district attorney for New York County from 1959–1961. He became executive director of the Manhattanville Hamilton Grange Neighborhood Conservation Project. He next served as program and executive director of Harlem Youth Opportunities. He also practiced law in New York City. 

In 1963, Alexander was called to Washington to serve as a foreign affairs officer on the National Security Council staff. He served next as deputy special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, associate special counsel, and deputy special counsel on the White House staff, 1964–1967. Alexander was appointed as chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1967–1969. Acting as the President's special representative, he headed the U.S. delegation to ceremonies marking the independence of the Kingdom of Swaziland in 1968.  Leaving government service after Republican Richard M. Nixon was elected to the presidency, he practiced law with the Washington firm of Arnold and Porter between 1969 and 1975.

He was a television news commentator in Washington, D.C., 1972–1976, and also taught as a professor of law at Howard University, 1973–1974. In 1974 he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for mayor of the District of Columbia.  Alexander returned to law, becoming a partner in the law firm of Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand in 1975.  In 1977, He was Secretary of the Army under the Carter Administration, serving until January 20, 1981, the first Black appointed to this Cabinet position. During this time, he concentrated on improving the all-volunteer Army, stressing programs to enhance professionalism, and emphasizing the award of contracts to minority businesses to fulfill the federal commitment to encourage diversity.  In 1981 Alexander formed the consulting firm of Alexander and Associates. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. 

In the early 21st century, Alexander has been outspoken in his opposition to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy. He called for its repeal by Congress.  His daughter Elizabeth was commissioned to write and present a poem for President Obama's presidential inauguration and recited the poem "Praise Song for the Day" on January 20, 2009.  His son Mark C. Alexander is dean at the Villanova University School of Law. He has also served as a political and campaign advisor to Bill Bradley, Ted Kennedy, and President Obama.  

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