E. Frederic Morrow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
E. Frederic Morrow
Administrative Officer for Special Projects
In office
July 11, 1955 – January 20, 1961
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byNone
Personal details
Born(1909-04-20)April 20, 1909
Hackensack, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJuly 19, 1994(1994-07-19) (aged 85)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Catherine Louise Gordon
(m. 1957)
RelationsJohn H. Morrow (brother)
Alma materBowdoin College
Rutgers University
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1942–1946

Everett Frederic Morrow (April 20, 1909 – July 19, 1994) 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.

Early life[edit]

Morrow was born in Hackensack, New Jersey.[1] 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.[2] His grandparents had been enslaved.[3]

He graduated from Hackensack High School in 1925, where he participated for three years on the school's debate team, serving as its president during his senior year.[4][2] He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[5]

His brother, John H. Morrow, was Ambassador to Guinea and American representative to UNESCO.


A graduate of the law school of Rutgers University, he attended Bowdoin College from 1926 to 1930, where he was one of two African American students in attendance.[2][3] Morrow had to return home before graduating to assist his family. (Bowdoin awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree in 1970.[6])

Early career[edit]

In 1935, Morrow held a position as a business manager for Opportunity Magazine, a part of the National Urban League. Two years later, he became a field secretary for the NAACP,[2] 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.[2] Later, he was a writer for CBS.

Political activity and White House period[edit]

Morrow with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956

After serving on Eisenhower's 1952 campaign staff, Morrow served as an adviser at the U.S. Commerce Department. He then moved to the White House as Administrative Officer for Special Projects, becoming the first African American to hold an executive position in the White House.

The White House Historical Association wrote of his tenure:[7]

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.'

Morrow campaigned for Richard Nixon in Nixon's unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign, including a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention and a role in the Vice-Presidential selection caucus.[8]

Post-White House life[edit]

In 1964, Morrow became the first African American vice-president of Bank of America, retiring from the company in 1975.[1][9] He died on July 19, 1994, at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.[1]

Books and papers[edit]

After the 1960 campaign, Morrow wrote a book on his experiences, Black Man in the White House.[10] In it, Morrow said:[11]

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 is primarily concerned with his own survival, and there's always the possibility that another's misfortune will ease the pressure on him.

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.[11]

In 1973, Morrow published his first autobiography, Way Down South Up North, focusing on racism "up north", in his hometown of Hackensack, New Jersey.[12] In 1980, after retiring from Bank of America, Morrow published his last autobiography, Forty Years a Guinea Pig: A Black Man's View from the Top.[9]

Some of his papers are at the Eisenhower Presidential Library,[13] the Chicago Public Library's Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature,[14] and the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, LA.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang (1994-07-21). "E. Frederic Morrow, 88, Aide In Eisenhower Administration". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Morrow, Everett Frederic (1909–1994)", BlackPast.org. Accessed November 25, 2017. "Everett Frederic Morrow, the son of John Eugene Morrow, a library custodian who became an ordained Methodist minister in 1912 and Mary Ann Hayes, a former farm worker and maid, was born on April 9, 1909 in Hackensack, New Jersey. 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."
  3. ^ a b Willcox, Isobel. "Hackensack Is Recalled As Hostile, Racist Town", The New York Times, July 15, 1973. Accessed November 25, 2017. "After his four years at Hackensack High School, Mr. Morrow attended and was graduated from Bowdoin College, served as a major in the Army during World War II and earned a law degree at Rutgers University School of Law."
  4. ^ Birkner, Michael J. "From Hackensack to the White House: The Triumph and Travail of E. Frederic Morrow", NJS: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Summer 2017. Accessed November 25, 2017. "Educated in a segregated elementary school but permitted to matriculate at the integrated Hackensack High School, Morrow participated in a wide range of student activities, including theatrical productions and the debate club."
  5. ^ "Brother E. Frederic Morrow". The SPHINX. 46 (1): 27. Spring 1961 – via Issuu.
  6. ^ "Bowdoin University" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  7. ^ "Timelines: 1950s – African Americans". White House Historical Association. Archived from the original on 2006-10-02.
  8. ^ Farrington, Joshua D. (2016-09-20). Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780812248524.
  9. ^ a b "What Happens After the Cheering Stops?". Ebony: 124. December 1982.
  10. ^ Morrow, E. Frederic (2014-01-31). Black Man in the White House. BookBaby. ISBN 9780989671446.
  11. ^ a b Jackson, Jesse (October 1963). "The Man in the Middle". Crisis Magazine (October): 508. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  12. ^ Wellcox, Isobel (1973-07-15). "Hackensack Is Recalled As Hostile, Racist Town". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  13. ^ "MORROW, E. FREDERIC: Papers, 1952–63" (PDF). Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
  14. ^ "E. Frederic Morrow Papers". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  15. ^ "E. Frederic Morrow papers". Amistad Research Center. Retrieved 2023-12-20.

Further reading[edit]