Harris, Patricia Roberts

Harris, Patricia Roberts,

1924–85, U.S. government official, b. Mattoon, Ill. A lawyer who was active in the Democratic party, she was a law professor and dean at Howard Univ. during the 1960s and became the first African-American woman to hold a U.S. ambassadorship when she was named (1965) by President Lyndon Johnson to the embassy in Luxembourg. As secretary of housing and urban development (1977) under President Jimmy Carter, she was the first African-American woman to serve in a cabinet post. From 1979 to 1980 she was secretary of health, education, and welfare, and after the Dept. of Education was created, she became the first secretary (1980–81) of health and human services. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1982.
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