E. Frederic Morrow

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E. Frederic Morrow (c. 1906-July 20, 1994[1][2]) was the first African American to hold an executive position at the White House. He served President Dwight Eisenhower as Administrative Officer for Special Projects from 1955 to 1961. His brother was Ambassador John H. Morrow.

Early life[edit]

Everett Frederic Morrow was born in Hackensack, N.J.and died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.[3] Morrow’s father was John Eugene Morrow, a library custodian, who became an ordained Methodist minister in 1912, and his mother was Mary Ann Hayes, a former farm worker and maid.[4] He graduated from Hackensack High School in 1925, where he not only served on the debate team for three years, but was their president his senior year.[5]

Education and career[edit]

A graduate of the law school of Rutgers University, he attended Bowdoin College from 1926–1930, where he was one of two African American students in attendance.[6] Morrow had to return home before graduating to assist his family. Bowdoin awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree in 1970 In 1935, Morrow held a position as a business manager for Opportunity Magazine as a part of the National Urban League. He then became a field secretary for the NAACP two years later.[7] The Hackensack, New Jersey native worked for the NAACP before joining the United States Army during World War II. In 1942, after only a month of serving in the US army as a private, he was promoted to sergeant, he soon after graduated from Officers Candidate School, and was discharged in 1946 as a Major of Artillery.[8] Later, he was a writer for CBS before joining the 1952 Eisenhower campaign. Morrow served as an adviser at the U.S. Commerce Department before being picked for the White House job.

The White House Historical Association has written:

As the sole African American on a staff dealing with racial tensions related to integration, Morrow faced difficult personal and professional struggles at the White House. The Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the Little Rock crisis were the backdrop for Morrow’s White House years. On a staff with a civil-rights policy that was at best cautious, Morrow was often frustrated and angered. He lived at a time when qualified African Americans were excluded from high-level political positions. Morrow as a black 'first' found relations within the president’s 'official family' to be 'correct in conduct, but cold.' [1]

After his Republican Party was turned out of office in 1960, Morrow wrote a book on his experiences, Black Man in the White House. Morrow writes about his experiences:

I have discovered certain peculiarities in the White House top staff. There is little sentiment at anyone’s downfall. There may be outward expressions of sympathy, but each man in primarily concerned with his own surgical, and there’s always the possibility that another’s misfortune will ease the pressure on him”[9]

In Morrow’s book, he speaks of many accounts where he suffered from racism on personal and professional levels. He also refers to multiple occasions when he was mistaken for a coat boy or taxi driver while working.[10] He later became the first African American vice-president of Bank of America. In 1973, Morrow published his autobiography, Way Down South Up North. In 1980, after retiring from Bank of America, Morrow published last autobiography, Forty Years a Guinea Pig: A Black Man's View from the Top.[11]

He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

References[edit]

  • Willcox, Isobel (July 15, 1973). "Hackensack Is Recalled As Hostile, Racist Town". NY Times, p. 82.
  • Saxon, Wolfgang (July 21, 1994) (Morrow obituary). NY Times, p.B11.

External links[edit]