Alexander Jr., Clifford L.


1977 TLS as Secretary of the Army, 1st African-American to hold that office


Autograph ID: 6817
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1933-2-22) First African-American Secretary of the Army 1977-81 (Carter). Yale Law (1958), practiced law in NYC. In 1963 he became a foreign affairs officer on the National Security Council staff, then as deputy special assistant to President Johnson, associate special counsel, and deputy special counsel on the White House staff 1964-67. He was chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 1967–69. Alexander then practiced law, was a Washington TV news commentator 1972-76, and also a Howard University law professor 1973–74. In 1974 he unsuccessfully ran for DC mayor then again practiced law. While Secretary of the Army, he concentrated upon improving the all-volunteer Army, stressing programs to enhance professionalism, and emphasizing the award of contracts to minority businesses to fulfill the federal commitment to encourage diversity. Outspoken against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, he called for congressional repeal. In 1981 Alexander formed the consulting firm of Alexander and Associates. His daughter Elizabeth, a poet and Yale professor of English, wrote and presented her poem “Praise Song for the Day” for President Obama’s 2009 inaugural.

TLS on 8 x 7 official letterhead as Army Secretary, blue Department of Defense seal at top left, Washington, April 1 1977, to Major General DeWitt C. Smith Jr., Army War College Commandant. Secretary Alexander thanks Smith for a copy of the 3-volume text “Army Command and Management: Theory and Practice” which Alexander hopes to have an opportunity to read in the near future.

DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. Joined the Army 1942, commissioned 2nd lieutenant, with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. Wounded 3 times, awarded Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged 1946, returned to active duty in Korea and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Maxwell Taylor, served in the “Old Guard” at Fort Myer, a battalion XO and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. Led a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.”
Type: Letter

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