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Justice Thurgood Marshall and William T. Coleman gather in the Red Room prior to Coleman being sworn in as Secretary of Transportation on March 7, 1975.
By The Skanner News
Published: 31 January 2020

coleman fhwa news coverThe March 1975 issue of FHWA News informed the agency that William T. Coleman, Jr., was the new Secretary of Transportation. (photo FHWA)Washington, D.C. – Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the William T. Coleman Jr. Department of Transportation Headquarters Act. This legislation would name the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters after William T. Coleman, Jr., the fourth United States Secretary of Transportation and first African American to serve in the position. 

“As we prepare to celebrate the start of Black History Month, I am proud to cosponsor this bill to rename the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters after the late William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., a Philadelphia native who was the first African-American to serve as Secretary of Transportation,” said Senator Casey. “From arguing 19 cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and coauthoring the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education, to his time at the helm of the Department of Transportation, Secretary Coleman exemplified the virtues of public service and I look forward to honoring his legacy.” 

William T. Coleman, Jr. was the first African American to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court clerk. He was recruited to serve on the NAACP by Thurgood Marshall and helped argue McLaughlin v. Florida in 1964 to strike down laws preventing interracial marriage. Coleman was appointed Secretary of Transportation by President Gerald Ford in 1975 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1995. Secretary Coleman died in 2017

Summing up his life, William T. Coleman, Jr., wrote "I am grateful for the American people, who, sometimes begrudgingly and not always peacefully, have nevertheless generally come to accept that the promise of America's dream will be realized only when all of its citizens are able to participate fully in democratic self-government and a competitive, dynamic, free economy."

Senator Casey was joined in introducing this legislation by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as well as Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).  

To read the bill, click here

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