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Tue, 08.07.1917

Melvin H. Evans, Politician born

Melvin Evans

*On this date in 1917, Melvin Herbert Evans was born. He was a Black politician, public health official, and physician.

He was born in Christiansted, St. Croix after the island had been purchased from Denmark by the United States. After graduating from high school on St. Thomas, Evans received his B. S. from Howard University in 1940 and a M.D. from the Howard College of Medicine four years later.  He then served in a variety of medical and public health positions for the United States and the Virgin Islands. From 1959 to 1967, Evans served as the Islands’ Health Commissioner. He returned to private practice for two years before President Nixon appointed him Governor of the Islands.

In 1978 he was elected to the House and was sworn in to the ninety-sixth Congress on January 3, 1979. Evans served on the Armed Services, Interior and Insular Affairs, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committees. He introduced legislation to alleviate the Islands’ critical shortage of doctors at local health facilities by permitting foreign physicians to practice there.  He also attempted to create farm credit loans to local fishing and agricultural industries and he succeeded in getting the Islands included under the definition of a “state” so that they would receive full law enforcement funding.  He also publicly eulogized A. Phillip Randolph after his death and opposed opposition to court ordered busing.

He was defeated for his congressional seat in 1980, was appointed U. S. Ambassador to Trinidad a year later and died in his hometown on November 27, 1984.

Reference:
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990
E185.96.R25

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