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Sun, 06.13.1937

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Politician born

Eleanor Holmes Norton

*Eleanor Holmes Norton was born on this date in 1937. She is a Black lawyer and politician.

She was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Coleman Holmes, a civil servant, and Vela Holmes née Lynch, a schoolteacher. She attended Antioch College, Yale University (M.A. 1963), and Yale University Law School (L.L.B 1964). While in college and graduate school, she was active in the 20th-century American civil rights movement and an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

By the time she graduated from Antioch, she had already been arrested for organizing and participating in sit-ins in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Ohio. While in law school, she traveled to Mississippi for the Mississippi Freedom Summer and worked with civil rights stalwarts like Medgar Evers. Her first encounter with a recently released but physically beaten Fannie Lou Hamer forced her to witness the intensity of violence and Jim Crow repression in the South.

Norton worked as a lawyer in private practice and then became a law clerk to Federal District Court Judge Aloysius Leon Higginbotham, Jr. She has served as an assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, adjunct assistant professor at New York University Law School, executive assistant to the Mayor of New York, chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a senior fellow of the Urban Institute, and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Norton was elected in 1990 as a Democratic non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Also, she may speak only on behalf of the District and vote only in committee, not on the House floor. The District, which has no Senate member, shares its limited form of Congressional representation with Puerto Rico and three other U.S. territories: Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands. Unlike those territories or any other place in the United States, citizens are subject to all federal laws, including taxation, despite not being represented in Congress. Norton is a regular panelist on the PBS women's news program To the Contrary.

On October 2, 2014, ABC News reported that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, in discussing her co-sponsoring a bill aimed at changing the National Football League's tax-exempt status, Del. Holmes Norton stated: "The NFL greed is so widespread that they’ve chosen to operate as a tax-exempt organization. So we want to take that choice away from them unless, and until, they decide not to profit from a name that has now officially been declared a racial slur,” Norton said on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games,” according to

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