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Tue, 06.26.1900

Rufus Clement born

Rufus Clement

*Rufus Clement was born on this date in 1900.  He was a Black educator and college administrator. 

A native of Salisbury, North Carolina, Rufus Early Clement was the son of Emma C. Clement. He started out as a professor and then dean of Livingstone College in Salisbury.  Clement then served as the first dean of Louisville Municipal College, now known as Simmons College of Kentucky. In 1937, he was named president of Atlanta University, position which he held until his death some thirty years later.

 W. E. B. Du Bois suspected Clement of being behind his forced retirement from Atlanta University in 1944.  At least one author supports this theory, arguing that Du Bois' confrontational approach to civil rights for Blacks clashed with Clement's more accommodationist inclination.  In 1953, Clement was elected to the Atlanta School Board, having become the first Black since Reconstruction to hold public office in Atlanta.  In the 1966 gubernatorial election, Clement endorsed the Republican nominee, U.S. Representative Howard "Bo" Callaway, who challenged the Democrat Lester Maddox, a businessman and staunch segregationist who had closed his Pickrick Restaurant to avoid integration.

Clement and the Negro Baptist Convention argued that the only way to prevent Maddox's election was for blacks to support Callaway though many in the minority group opposed Callaway's conservative voting record in Congress. Ultimately as a result of an election impasse, the Georgia General Assembly elected Maddox as governor, 182 to 66.  The sixth and longest-serving president of Atlanta University, Rufus Clement died on November 7, 1967. 

Reference:

Louisville.edu

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