Alexander, Clifford L., Jr.

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Alexander, Clifford L., Jr.

September 3, 1933

Clifford Alexander, Jr., a lawyer, was born in New York City. His parents, Clifford L., Sr., and Edith Alexander, strongly influenced his decision to pursue a political career. Alexander graduated from Harvard University in 1955, where he was the first black president of the student council. In 1958 he received a degree from Yale Law School, and then worked as an assistant district attorney for New York County for two years. In 1961 he became the executive director of the Manhattanville-Hamilton Grange Neighborhood Conservation Project, where he worked to get landlords to meet housing code standards. He then became the Program and Executive Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU) Inc. (19621963), an antipoverty program that attempted to improve the public schools and delinquency problems in Harlem.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy asked Alexander to serve as foreign affairs officer of the National Security Council. In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him deputy special assistant to the president, associate special counsel, and deputy special counsel to the president. Johnson sought his advice on civil rights issues, and in 1967 he made Alexander chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), an agency that focused on uncovering evidence of discrimination. Alexander left the EEOC when the Nixon administration took office in 1969 and accepted a partnership in the law firm of Arnold and Porter in Washington, D.C., where he remained until 1975, when he briefly joined the firm of Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Alexander.

From 1971 to 1974 Alexander was host and coproducer of the television show Cliff Alexander: Black on White; in addition, he held part-time teaching positions at Georgetown Law School and at Howard University. In 1974 he ran for mayor of Washington, D.C., but he lost to Walter Washington. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter named him Secretary of the Army, a position he held until January 1981. Later that same year Alexander established Alexander & Associates, a corporate consulting firm in Washington, D.C., which provides advice on workforce inclusiveness for corporate directors and executives. Alexander has received numerous honors and awards, including the Department of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Medal and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service award, the highest such award given to a civilian.

Alexander is on the board of directors of several national corporations and is also on the board of governors of the American Stock Exchange.

See also Civil Rights Movement, U.S.; Politics in the United States


Elliot, Jeffery M. Black Voices in American Politics. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt, 1986.

Mortiz, Charles, ed. Current Biography. New York: W. H. Wilson, 1977.

linda salzman (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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Alexander, Clifford L., Jr.

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