Robert C. Weaver
Shout out to Robert C. Weaver—economist and first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
As the grandson of Robert Tanner Freeman—the first Black graduate of Harvard University in 1869—you extended his legacy by earning a B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. in Economics from the elite institution in 1929, 1931, and 1934, respectively. It was during this period, beginning with the Great Depression, where you climbed ranks as an influential presence within Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet, advising FDR on critical issues plaguing the Black community through World War II.
In 1966, you were selected by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first U.S. Secretary of HUD, and in the process became the first Black appointee to a president’s Cabinet. An unyielding champion of your people, you indelibly impressed upon General Colin L. Powell; and you blazed the trail for Patricia Roberts Harris, Kamala Harris and other eventual African American U.S. Cabinet members.