Edited by Gerald Boerner



JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumbThe 1960s was a groundbreaking era on many fronts. It saw a major push for women’s rights in all areas of life, especially the workplace and in the control of their bodies. Students were pushing for more say in their college education, especially curriculum. The United States was fighting an unpopular war in Southeast Asia — Vietnam. And, of course, there was the demand of African Americans and Hispanics for equal rights in fact, not just in theory. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marches throughout the South against the KKK and Jim Crow Laws. In California, Caesar Chavez was leading Hispanic marchers in the Table Grape Boycott to win better working conditions for California’s migrant field workers..


A new, young president, John F. Kennedy, came on the scene with a new vision for our country. He called for our people to contribute to the betterment of the needy in other countries through Service by Peace Corp volunteers. He called on our science and engineering community to put a man on the moon, and return him safely to earth, by the end of the decade of the 1960s. But he also wanted to help improve the lot of those living in the oft-neglected urban areas of our country. To this end, he proposed a new, cabinet-level Department of Housing and Urban Development. But the Congress dominated by Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats blocked him on this move.

The idea of a separate department to provide better housing to urban dwellers was not dead. The torch was picked up and carried by President Lyndon B. Johnson following the assassination of JFK. Johnson pushed multiple pieces of Civil Rights legislation through the Congress, including the Voting Rights Act. In 1965, he was able to achieve passage of a bill to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As the new cabinet-level Secretary of the department, he appointed the long time urban affairs expert and administrator — Robert C. Weaver. Weaver was confirmed by the Senate and became the first African American Cabinet Member. He paved the way for other African Americans and Hispanics to make their rightful contributions to the government of this great country.


But now, let’s get started with our exploration of the first Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who, by the way, was an African American. Weaver was well qualified for the post by his education and experience in government from the time of the Black Cabinet created by FDR during the years of the New Deal. So, let us begin… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 2670 Words ]


Quotations Related to Urban:

[ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/urban.html ]


“Companies operating in urban communities have a tremendous ripple effect.”
— Michael Porter

“Everyone’s looking to the urban scene for inspiration now.”
— Robin Gibb

“How does he support Clinton’s urban agenda? He doesn’t know what it is.”
— Maxine Waters

“I don’t have them down here asking me what my urban agenda is. I don’t find them really doing in-depth stories on community-based organizations that have been struggling for a long time and who are out trying to get funds. They aren’t interested in those stories.”
— Maxine Waters

“For my part, I make this pledge to all of you: The politics of division, of pitting east against west, urban versus rural, region against region, and people against people will have no place in my Administration.”
— Edward G. Rendell

“I know that New York City remains the highest density urban area in the country and by far dedicates more of its own funds to fighting terrorism than any other municipality.”
— Jose Serrano

“After Land I wanted to continue exploring the theme but I needed a new challenge so turned to colour. I explored Bradford and produced a series of urban landscapes that I liked, but because Land had made such an impact on the general public my colour work wasn’t reviewed.”
— Fay Godwin

“And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there… Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.”
— Ezra Pound


Robert C. Weaver: First African American in Presidential Cabinet…


Robert_C__WeaverRobert Clifton Weaver
(December 29, 1907 – July 17, 1997) served as the first United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (also known as HUD) from 1966 to 1968. He was the first African American to hold a cabinet-level position in the United States.

As a young man, Weaver had been one of 45 prominent African Americans appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to his Black Cabinet. He acted as an informal adviser to Roosevelt as well as directing federal programs during the New Deal.

Dr. Weaver was also one of the original directors of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which was formed to rescue New York City from financial crisis in the 1970’s.

”He was a catalyst with the Kennedys and then with Johnson, forging new initiatives in housing and education,” said Walter E. Washington, the first elected Mayor of the nation’s capital.

A portly, pedagogical man who wrote four books on urban affairs, Dr. Weaver had made a name for himself in the 1930’s and 40’s as an expert behind-the-scenes strategist in the civil rights movement. ”Fight hard and legally,” he said, ”and don’t blow your top.”

As a part of the ”Black Cabinet” in the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dr. Weaver was one of a group of blacks who specialized in housing, education and employment. After being hired as race relations advisers in various Federal agencies, they pressured and persuaded the White House to provide more jobs, better educational opportunities and equal rights.


Interview with Robert Weaver…  (5:18)




The Black Cabinet

Roosevelt_inauguration_1932The Black Cabinet was first known as the Federal Council of Negro Affairs, an informal group of African-American public policy advisors to United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was supported by the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. By mid-1935, there were 45 African Americans working in federal executive departments and New Deal agencies.

Roosevelt’s administration wanted to tend to the increasing needs of African Americans which, in practical terms, had not been met since Reconstruction. African Americans wanted better representation in government, especially as most had been disfranchised across the South at the turn of the 20th century and essentially could not vote there. The administration selected prominent individuals from the African American community to represent the needs of African Americans and appointed them to official positions throughout the government.

Through these efforts, blacks were appointed to positions of responsibility within numerous governmental agencies, the ‘Black Cabinet’ or ‘Black Brain Trust’ – a vocal and eloquent group of highly trained and politically astute African American intellectuals who spearheaded the struggle for civil rights during the thirties.

Members of the "cabinet" worked officially and unofficially in their agencies to provide insight into the needs of African Americans. In the past, there had never been so many blacks chosen at one time to work together for the African-American community. The 45 primarily comprised an advisory group to the administration. The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was said to encourage the formation of the Black Cabinet to help shape New Deal programs.

The Members

Most members were not politicians but community leaders, scholars and activists, with strong ties to the African American community. Prominent members included Dr. Robert C. Weaver, a young economics expert from Harvard University and a race relations adviser. He worked with the White House to provide more opportunities for African Americans. In 1966 he became the first black cabinet member, appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson as Secretary of the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development. During the 1970s, Weaver served as the national director of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which was formed during New York City’s financial crisis. Another prominent member of Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet was Eugene K. Jones, the Executive Secretary of the National Urban League, a major civil rights organization.

One of the most well-known members and only woman among the young, ambitious men was Ms. Mary Jane McLeod Bethune. "Ms. Bethune was a Republican who changed her party allegiance because of Franklin Roosevelt." Ms. Bethune was very closely tied to the community and believed she knew what the African Americans really wanted. She was looked upon very highly by other members of the cabinet, and the younger men called her "Ma Bethune." Ms. Bethune was a personal friend of Mrs. Roosevelt and, uniquely among the cabinet, had access to the White House. Their friendship began during a luncheon when Mrs. Roosevelt sat Ms. Bethune to the right of the president, considered the seat of honor. Franklin Roosevelt was so impressed by one of Bethune’s speeches that he appointed her to the Division of Negro Affairs in the newly created National Youth Administration.

… [MORE]


Weaver Heads the New HUD as Secretary


When the department was finally approved in 1965, many people thought that Weaver would be the best nominee. He had previously served in various posts in government with the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, as one of his unofficial Black Cabinet members. In 1965, he was still Administrator of the HHFA, having been appointed by Kennedy. In public, Johnson reiterated Weaver’s status as a potential nominee but would not promise him the position. In private, Johnson had strong reservations. He often held pro-and-con discussions with Roy Wilkins, Executive Director of the NAACP.

Robert_C__Weaver_1966 Weaver with Lyndon Johnson at the White House
for his swearing-in ceremony, 1966.

He wanted a strong proponent for the new department. Johnson worried about Weaver’s political sense. Johnson seriously considered other candidates, none of whom were black. He wanted a top administrator, but also someone who was exciting. Johnson was worried about how the new Secretary would interact with the Solid South, still Democrat, but with social tensions following passage of civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act in 1965. As candidates, Johnson considered the politician Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago; and the philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller.

Ultimately, Johnson believed that Weaver was the best-qualified administrator. Johnson’s attitude became more favorable after he received a report which his assistant Bill Moyers had prepared at his request, on Weaver’s potential effectiveness as the new Secretary. Moyers noted Weaver’s strong accomplishments and ability to create teams. Ten days after Johnson’s receiving the report, the president put forward the nomination and Weaver was successfully confirmed by the United States Senate.

… [MORE]


The United States Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development


US-DeptOfHUD-Seal_svgThe United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is the head of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, a member of the President’s Cabinet, and thirteenth in the Presidential line of succession. The post was created with the formation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on September 9, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act (Pub.L. 89-174) into law. The Department’s mission is "to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”

Robert C. Weaver became the first African American Cabinet member by being appointed to the position. The department was also the first Cabinet department to be headed by an African American woman, Patricia Roberts Harris, in 1977. Henry Cisneros became the first Hispanic HUD Secretary in 1993.

After election, Kennedy tried to establish a new cabinet department to deal with urban issues. It was to be called the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Postwar suburban development and economic restructuring were drawing population and jobs from the cities. The nation was faced with a stock of substandard, aged housing in many cities, and problems of unemployment.

In 1961, while trying to create HUD, Kennedy had done everything short of promising the new position to Weaver. He appointed him Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Administration (HHFA), a group of agencies which Kennedy wanted to raise to cabinet status.

“When Dr. Weaver joined the Kennedy Administration, whose Harvard connections extended to the occupant of the Oval Office, he held more Harvard degrees – three, including a doctorate in economics – than anyone else in the administration’s upper ranks.”

Republicans and southern Democrats opposed legislation to create the new department. The following year, Kennedy unsuccessfully tried to use his reorganization authority to create the department. As a result, Congress passed legislation prohibiting presidents from using that authority to create a new cabinet department, although the previous Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower administration had created the cabinet-level U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under that authority.

… [MORE]


Housing and Urban Development…  (10:30)



Please take time to further explore more about Robert C. Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, FDR’s Black Cabinet, Patricia Roberts Harris, Henry Cisneros, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Carol Moseley Braun, African American, Edward W. Brooke, Condoleezza Rice, and Thurgood Marshall by accessing the Wikipedia articles referenced below. In most cases, the text in the body of this post has been selectively excerpted from the articles; footnotes and hyperlinks have been removed for readability…





Other Events on this Day:

  • In 1778…
    At Valley Forge, the Patriot army attends to the construction of makeshift hospitals for the sick.

    In 1794…
    President Washington approves a measure adding two stars and stripes to the flag to represent Vermont and Kentucky.

    In 1898…
    "J’Accuse," Émile Zola’s open letter to French President Félix Faure, is published in the newspaper L’Aurore in Paris. In his letter, Zola condemns the French military’s cover-up of evidence proving the innocence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a general staff officer convicted of treason in an anti-Semitic trial.

    In 1910…
    In an early radio demonstration, opera star Enrico Caruso is broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

    In 1957…
    The Wham-O toy company begins producing the Pluto Platter, an aerodynamic plastic disc designed by Walter Morrison. The toy was soon renamed the Frisbee and became a national craze.

    In 1966…
    Robert C. Weaver is selected by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve as secretary of housing and urban development, becoming the first African American member of a presidential Cabinet.

    In 1968…
    Johnny Cash performs two shows for the inmates at California’s Folsom State Prison, beginning each set with his 1955 hit "Folsom Prison Blues." The performances are recorded for Cash’s live album, At Folsom Prison, which will be released later that year.

    In 1976…
    Sarah Caldwell becomes the first woman to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera, leading the orchestra in the first of 11 performances of Verdi’s La Traviata, starring soprano Beverly Sills.

    In 1978…
    ASA selects six women — Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan — to be the first female astronaut candidates in the U.S. space program. All six women will eventually fly on space shuttle missions.

    In 1990…
    Douglas Wilder of Virginia is sworn in as the nation’s first elected black governor.


Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Robert C. Weaver…

Wikipedia: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development…

Wikipedia: FDR’s Black Cabinet…

Wikipedia: Patricia Roberts Harris…

Wikipedia: Henry Cisneros…

Wikipedia: Franklin D. Roosevelt…

Wikipedia: Lyndon B. Johnson…

New York Times: Robert C. Weaver Dies

Brainy Quote: Urban Quotes…


Other Posts on related Topics:

Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Carol Moseley Braun: First African American Woman in the U.S. Senate…

Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Edward W. Brooke: First African American Elected to U.S. Senate…

Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Black Women in History: Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State…

Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Thurgood Marshall: African American Supreme Court Justice…