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Clifford Alexander
Alexander, Clifford L.jpg
13th United States Secretary of the Army
In office
February 13, 1977 – January 20, 1981
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byMartin R. Hoffmann
Succeeded byPercy A. Pierre (Acting)
John Otho Marsh Jr.
Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
In office
August 4, 1967 – May 1, 1969
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Preceded byStephen N. Shulman
Succeeded byWilliam H. Brown III
Personal details
Clifford Leopold Alexander Jr.

(1933-09-21) September 21, 1933 (age 88)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Adele Logan
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Yale University (LLB)
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1958
UnitNew York National Guard
 • 369th Infantry Regiment

Clifford Leopold Alexander Jr. (born September 21, 1933) is an American lawyer, businessman and public servant from New York City. He was the first African-American Secretary of the Army.

Life and career

Clifford Alexander Jr was born in New York City in 1933 to Clifford Leopold Alexander and his wife. He attended the private Ethical Culture and Fieldston schools. Alexander graduated from Harvard College in 1955 and from Yale Law School in 1958. He enlisted in the New York National Guard in 1958 and served briefly with the 369th Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Dix, New Jersey.[1][2]

He married Adele Logan in 1959. She became a professor at George Washington University after earning her doctorate in history and has specialized in African-American history. They have a daughter, Elizabeth Alexander (born in 1962) and son Mark C. Alexander (born 1965).

After being admitted to the bar, Alexander served as an assistant district attorney for New York County, 1959–1961. He became executive director of the Manhattanville Hamilton Grange Neighborhood Conservation Project. He next served as program and executive director of Harlem Youth Opportunities. He also practiced law in New York City.

In 1963 during the John F. Kennedy administration, Alexander was called to Washington to serve as a foreign affairs officer on the National Security Council staff. He served next as deputy special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, associate special counsel, and deputy special counsel on the White House staff, 1964–1967. Alexander was appointed as chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1967–1969. Acting as a special representative of the President, he headed the U.S. delegation to ceremonies marking the independence of the Kingdom of Swaziland in 1968.

Leaving government service after Republican Richard M. Nixon was elected to the presidency, Alexander practiced law with the Washington firm of Arnold and Porter between 1969 and 1975. He was a television news commentator in Washington, D.C., 1972–1976; and also taught as a professor of law at Howard University, 1973–1974. In 1974 he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for mayor of the District of Columbia.[3]

Alexander returned to law, becoming a partner in the law firm of Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in 1975.

Alexander returned to public service as Secretary of the Army under the Carter Administration, serving from February 14, 1977, to January 20, 1981. He was the first African American appointed to this Cabinet position. During this time he concentrated upon improving the all-volunteer Army, stressing programs to enhance professionalism, and emphasizing the award of contracts to minority businesses to fulfill the federal commitment to encourage diversity.

In the early 21st century, Alexander has been outspoken in his opposition to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the military. He called for its repeal by Congress. Rachel Maddow interviewed him on her MSNBC television shows on May 11, 2009, and June 28, 2013.

In 1981 Alexander formed the consulting firm of Alexander and Associates. In addition, he serves on the boards of directors of several national corporations and is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.


His and Adele's daughter Elizabeth Alexander became a poet and professor of English at Yale University, and is now the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She was commissioned to write and present a poem for President Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. He is the first African American to be elected to this office. Alexander recited the poem "Praise Song for the Day" on January 20, 2009.

Their son Mark C. Alexander is dean at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. He has also served as a political and campaign advisor to Bill Bradley, Ted Kennedy, and President Obama.


  1. ^ "Boss Man". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. June 1977. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Clifford Leopold Alexander Jr., Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army, 1992 edition.
  3. ^ Hornblower, Margot (September 23, 1974). "Hand Check Of 93,473 Ballots Ends: Mayor's Win Verified by Hand Count". The Washington Post. p. C1.
Political offices Preceded byMartin R. Hoffmann United States Secretary of the Army 1977–1981 Succeeded byJohn Otho Marsh Jr.