Patricia Roberts Harris

Patricia Robert Harris was born in Mattoon, Illinois on May 31, 1924. She was the first African American to be an ambassador, become a dean of a law school, and serve in a U. S. Presidential cabinet.

Patricia believed that black and whites where equal and she demonstrated for equal rights. She graduated from Howard University in 1945. In 1955 she married Howard law professor William Beasley Harris. Later she went to law school and graduated in 1960 from George Washington University National Law Center. She was admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1969 she became dean of Howard University Law School. In 1977, Harris was appointed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Senators asked her during her confirmation hear if she help poor people. She said, "I am one of them. You do not seem to understand who I am. I am a Black woman, daughter of a dining-car worker. I am a Black woman who could not buy a house eight years ago in parts of the District of Columbia. I didn’t start out as a member of a prestigious law firm, but as a woman who needed a scholarship to go to school. If you think that I have forgotten that, you are wrong.” Patricia died on March 21, 1985 from breast cancer she is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington D.C.

image courtesy of African American of the 20th Century

for more information:
National Women's Hall of Fame - Women of the Hall
The Legacy of Patricia Roberts Harris at Howard University - Part 1

by Alex, 4th grade, 2008

last edited 04/29/2008