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CSL Pays Tribute to Sadie M. Alexander (1898-1989)

C&S Pays Tribute to Sadie M. Alexander (1898-1989)

sadie alexander

Remember Sadie M. Alexander (1898-1989), top Philadelphia attorney, humanitarian and political activist!  After graduating the University of Pennsylvania in 1927, she became the first African-American woman to pass the Pennsylvania bar, then joined her husband in one of the earliest husband-wife legal teams in the United States.   Together, the Alexander’s attacked the color barrier in downtown restaurants, theaters, and hotels.

In the early 1930s, Raymond made headlines when his successful lawsuit against segregated school systems in Chester County school districts marked an end to legal segregation in Pennsylvania public schools. At the same time, Sadie emerged as a driving force in the National Urban League.   In order to eliminate “coloreds only” sections in theatres, the Alexanders helped draft the 1935 Pennsylvania state public accommodations law, prohibiting discrimination in public places. As dedicated members of the Philadelphia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), they fought for black equality in housing, education, and employment. Working with one of the city’s oldest black newspapers, the Philadelphia Tribune, they lobbied hard to pressure businesses and schools to hire blacks on an equal basis with whites.

Sadie’s efforts also won her national attention. In 1947, President Harry S. Truman appointed Alexander to the President’s committee on the Civil Rights of All Races and Faiths, making her the first black woman to serve on a presidential commission.   In 1948, the National Urban League chose Alexander as its “Woman of the Year” and presented her story in a comic book for black children.


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