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Frederic Morrow with President Eisenhower.

Eisenhower Library

E. Frederic Morrow was the first African American to serve in an executive position on a president’s staff at the White House. Morrow was a minister’s son who had graduated from Bowdoin College and was employed by the National Urban League and the NAACP before entering Army service during World War II. After the war, he obtained a law degree from Rutgers University and worked for the public affairs division at CBS. He was an adviser on business affairs in the Commerce Department before joining Eisenhower’s staff as Administrative Officer for Special Projects from 1955 to 1961. As the sole African American on a staff dealing with racial tensions related to integration, Morrow faced difficult personal and professional struggles at the White House. The Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. the Board of Education ruling, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the Little Rock crisis were the backdrop for Morrow’s White House years. On a staff with a civil-rights policy that was at best cautious, Morrow was often frustrated and angered. He lived at a time when qualified African Americans were excluded from high-level political positions. Morrow as a black "first" found relations within the president’s "official family" to be "correct in conduct, but cold." He published his autobiography, Black Man in the White House, in 1963 leaving a valuable account of his experience as a black man working in the president’s inner circle, including his disappointment with the indecision of Eisenhower’s civil rights policy.

Footnotes & Resources

E. Frederic Morrow, Black Man in the White House, Coward-McCann, 1963