Eva M. Clayton

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Eva Clayton
A picture of 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 with a Bachelor of Science degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a Master of Science degree from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. She also attended law school at North Carolina Central University.

Career[edit]

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 from 1977 to 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 the 1st congressional district in North Carolina 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.)[2]

Clayton gained national attention as president of her Democratic freshman class in Congress. During her ten years of distinguished service as a United States Congresswoman, Clayton served on the House Agriculture Committee and as the ranking member of the United States Department of Agriculture's Operations Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommmittees. She also served on the House Budget and Small Business Committees. She was actively engaged in the legislative development of the Department of Agriculture's Operation policy. She was a conferee on the 2002 Farm Bill and is recognized by national organizations, including the National Journal publications, for providing essential leadership by garnering support for nutritional programs and the civil rights and support for African American farmers in the final version of the Farm Bill. She provided additional leadership by serving as the bipartisan co-chair of the Rural Caucus and as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

In 2003, Clayton was appointed Assistant Director-General and Special Adviser to the Director-General on World Food Summit Follow-up with the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. She served in that capacity for three years, in which she was responsible for encouraging the establishment of global alliances and partnerships to fight hunger and poverty in twenty-four different countries around the world, including the United States, Brazil, Ghana, and Jordan. Clayton remains a strong advocate for the hungry and the poor and she continuously promotes sustainable agriculture and equality in this country and around the world.[3]

Clayton is currently an independent consultant for Eva Clayton Associates International (ECAI), where she focuses her efforts on improving global agriculture, food security, poverty reduction, and rural development. She advocates for the elimination of hunger, encourages corporations and other entities to actively engage in economic development, and promotes strengthening the infrastructure within rural communities. She is a recognized subject matter expert whose editorials receive attention in national publications.

She is the recipient of eight honorary doctorate degrees and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Clayton is an Elder at Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church in Henderson, North Carolina. She serves on several boards that address hunger, agriculture and state policy issues, including the United States Alliance to End Hunger, the Global Food Banking Network, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Clayton is married to Theaoseus T. Clayton, Sr., Esq. and they have four children and six grandchildren.

References[edit]

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

1992–2003
Succeeded by
Frank Ballance