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May 3, 2008

Patricia Roberts Harris

Patricia Harris in her swearing-in ceremony (in 1965) to be the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.

Patricia Roberts Harris (May 31, 1924March 23, 1985) served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the last United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and the first United States Secretary of Health and Human Services in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. She was the first African American woman to serve as a United States Ambassador, representing the U.S. in Luxembourg under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency.

Born Patricia Roberts in Mattoon, Illinois, Roberts was the daughter of a railroad dining car waiter. She graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in 1945. While at Howard, she was elected Phi Beta Kappa. There she met William Beasley Harris, a member of the Howard law faculty, they were married in 1955. She did postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and at American University in 1949. Until 1953, she worked as Assistant Director of the American Council on Human Rights. She was the first national executive of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, of which she was a member.[citation needed] Roberts later graduated from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1960. Source

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