Eva M. Clayton

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Eva Clayton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st district
In office
November 3, 1992 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Walter B. Jones, Sr.
Succeeded by Frank Ballance
Personal details
Born (1934-09-16) September 16, 1934 (age 80)
Savannah, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Theaoseus Clayton

Eva M. Clayton (born September 16, 1934) is a politician from the state of North Carolina. On taking her seat in the United States House of Representatives following a special election in 1992, Clayton became the first African American to represent North Carolina in the House since George Henry White was elected to his second and last term in 1898. She was re-elected and served for five terms. In 2003, Clayton was appointed Assistant Director-General of the United Nations's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), based in Rome, Italy.

Early life and education[edit]

Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in 1955 with a bachelor's degree, and from North Carolina Central University with a master's degree.


Clayton worked on the Soul City community development project in Warren County, North Carolina. In 1977, she was appointed Assistant Secretary for community development for the North Carolina state Department of Natural Resources and Community Development and served (1977–1981).

From 1982 to 1992, Clayton served as an elected member and chair of the Warren County board of commissioners. In 1992 she was elected from Warren County to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat; at the same time she won a special election to finish the remaining months in 1992 of the term of Congressman Walter B. Jones, Sr..

North Carolina had amended its constitution in 1899 to disfranchise Blacks, as did most southern states from 1890-1908, and no Black candidates were elected to Congress in the succeeding 92 years. In 1992, Clayton and Mel Watt became the first African Americans to win election to the House from North Carolina since 1898. (As Clayton won a special election, she took office before Watt). Watt's 12th congressional district was one of two minority majority districts developed in the 1990s, in order to give the substantial minority of African Americans in the state the ability to elect candidates of their choice, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[1] By contrast, Clayton was elected from what was then a majority-White district. (In 2013 it was redistricted and is now majority black.)[citation needed]

Clayton gained national attention as president of her Democratic freshman class in Congress. She had a progressive voting record and opposed bills relating to trade with China, since the bills would harm her district. Clayton retired from Congress in 2003, at the end of her fifth term.

In 2003, Clayton was appointed Assistant Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), based in Rome, taking responsibility for tracking progress of the FAO's efforts to increase agricultural productivity worldwide and to help reduce hunger and poverty in the world.[2]


  1. ^ senate.leg.state.mn.us "North Carolina Redistricting Cases: the 1990s", National Conference of State Legislatures
  2. ^ United Nations, Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General (Mar. 18, 2003), last accessed Feb. 18, 2015

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter B. Jones, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Frank Ballance