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This date marks the birth of Raymond Pace Alexander in 1898. He was a lawyer, politician, and judge.
Alexander was born into a working-class black family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, like many Blacks in the 1860s and 1870s, had left the rural South looking for economic opportunities and an escape from the violence that accompanied the Jim Crow segregation system in place there. His father, Hillard Boone Alexander, was born a slave in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and was the son of the plantation owner. He migrated to Philadelphia with his brother, Samuel, in 1880. That same year, Raymond's mother, Virginia Pace, also migrated to Philadelphia with her brother, John Schollie Pace; they had been born slaves in Essex County, Virginia. Hillard and Virginia married in Philadelphia in 1882.
Born in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping to end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for NAACP.
Between 1933 and 1935, Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Though 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 though he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958, Alexander committed himself to city politics, serving on the Philadelphia city council. Raymond Alexander, the first Black to hold a position on the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia died in 1974.
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History Volume 1,
ISBN #0-02-897345-3, Pg 175 Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West