Skip to Content

Toomey, Casey Applaud Passage of Legislation Honoring Philadelphian William T. Coleman, Jr.

February 14, 2020
Photo

Washington D.C. - The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) honoring lifelong public servant and Philadelphia native William T. Coleman, Jr. The William T. Coleman, Jr., Department of Transportation Headquarters Act designates the headquarters building of the Department of Transportation located in Washington, DC, as the "William T. Coleman, Jr., Federal Building".

"William T. Coleman, Jr., was one of Pennsylvania's most distinguished sons, and his lifelong work promoting equality and fairness had a profound impact on our country," said Senator Toomey. "Serving as the first African-American law clerk on the Supreme Court, the first African-American Secretary of Transportation, and having coauthored the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education to help desegregate public schools, Mr. Coleman was a trailblazer. His legacy is so impressive that former President Clinton rightly saw fit to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is especially fitting that this legislation was approved during Black History Month, a month devoted to honoring the achievements of African Americans."

"I am pleased that the Senate passed the bill to rename the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters after the late William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., a Philadelphia native who was the first African-American to serve as Secretary of Transportation," said Senator Casey. "Secretary Coleman exemplified the virtues of public service and our bipartisan effort to rename the Department of Transportation building in his honor is befitting of his legacy."

The bill now awaits approval from the U.S. House of Representatives. You may review the bill in its entirety here.

Background
William T. Coleman, Jr., was born in Philadelphia in 1920 and received an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Secretary Coleman became the nation's first African-American Supreme Court clerk. Secretary Coleman went on to become an accomplished civil rights attorney who was heavily involved in landmark cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education. In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Coleman as Secretary of Transportation, making him the first African-American to serve in the post and the second African-American to serve in a Cabinet-level position. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.