Edward R. Dudley

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For other people named Edward Dudley, see Edward Dudley (disambiguation).
Edward R. Dudley
Borough President of Manhattan
In office
January 31, 1961 – December 31, 1964
Preceded by Hulan E. Jack
Succeeded by Constance Baker Motley
United States Ambassador to Liberia
In office
May 6, 1949 – June 15, 1953
President Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
Preceded by Himself
Succeeded by Jesse D. Locker
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Liberia
In office
October 18, 1948 – March 2, 1949
President Harry Truman
Preceded by Raphael O'Hara Lanier
Succeeded by


Promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary March 18, 1949
Personal details
Born Edward Richard Dudley
(1911-03-11)March 11, 1911
South Boston, Virginia, U.S.
Died February 10, 2005(2005-02-10) (aged 93)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rae Oley Dudley
Alma mater Johnson C. Smith University
Howard University
St. John's University School of Law

Edward Richard Dudley (March 11, 1911 – February 10, 2005) was the first African-American to hold the rank of Ambassador of the United States, serving as Ambassador to Liberia from 1949 to 1953.


Dudley graduated with a B.S. degree from Johnson C. Smith College in 1932 where he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and then taught school in Gainsboro, Virginia. He studied dentistry for a year on a scholarship at Howard University, and then moved to New York City. His wife was Rae {Elizabeth} Olley Dudley and had one child Edward Richard Dudley jr.

In New York, Dudley worked odd jobs, among them as stage manager for Orson Welles at a public works theater project. In 1938, he enrolled at St. John's University School of Law, graduating with an LL.B. in 1941. For a brief period he practiced law, entered Democratic politics in Harlem, and was an Assistant New York State Attorney General in 1942. In 1942, he married Rae Oley, and they had a son, Edward R. Dudley, Jr.

In 1943, he joined the N.A.A.C.P. legal team. As an assistant special counsel, he wrote briefs and prepared cases seeking the admission of black students to Southern colleges, equal pay for black teachers, and an end to discrimination in public transportation.

He was executive assistant to the Governor of the Virgin Islands from 1945 to 1947, and was then appointed by President Harry S. Truman as Minister to Liberia in 1948, and Ambassador in 1949.

Returning home in 1953, he practiced law and directed the N.A.A.C.P.'s Freedom Fund. In 1955, New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr., appointed him a justice on the Domestic Relations Court.

Dudley served as the Borough President of Manhattan from 1961 to 1964. In the New York state election of 1962, he was the Democratic and Liberal candidate for Attorney General but was defeated by the Republican incumbent, Louis Lefkowitz. He was a delegate to the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

In November 1964, Dudley was elected as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court for the First Judicial District (Manhattan and the Bronx). He served from 1965 until his retirement in 1985.

He died of prostate cancer in St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan. He survived by his son and three grandchildren Kevin, Kyle and Alexandra Dudley.

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Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Raphael Lanier
United States Ambassador to Liberia
Succeeded by
Jesse Locker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hulan E. Jack
Borough President of Manhattan
Succeeded by
Constance Baker Motley
Preceded by
Peter J. Crotty
Democratic Nominee for New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Frank Sedita