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. Taking seat in a special election in 1992 to the United States House of Representatives, she is the first African American to serve as Representative from the state 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 she was appointed as Assistant Director-General of the United Nations' 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 as the 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. She was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992, and at the same time in a special election to finish the remaining months in 1992 of the term of Congressman Walter B. Jones, Sr..

Clayton and Mel Watt were the first African Americans elected to the House from North Carolina since 1898 (since Clayton won the special election, she took office before Watt). This absence of black representation was due to the state's amending its constitution in 1899 to disfranchise blacks, as did other southern states from 1890-1901. In the first half of the twentieth century, thousands of blacks left the state in the Great Migration to the North for jobs and opportunities, leaving whites as the majority in most districts. The disfranchisement essentially lasted, although some blacks managed to register and vote, until passage of federal civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. African Americans no longer constituted a majority of any Congressional district.

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 at the end of her fifth term in 2003.

In 2003, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), based in Rome, appointed former Congresswoman Clayton as an Assistant Director-General, responsible for tracking progress in the FAO efforts to increase agricultural productivity worldwide and to help reduce hunger and poverty in the world.[1]


  1. ^ "News", FAO official website

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