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Tue, 06.26.1900

Rufus Clement, College Administrator 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 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, a position he held until his death thirty years later.

 W. E. B. Du Bois suspected Clement was 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, becoming the first black to hold public office in Atlanta since Reconstruction.  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 Pickwick 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. However, many in the minority group opposed Callaway's conservative voting record in Congress. Ultimately, due to 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. 

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