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Raymond Pace Alexander

March 1, 2011

Wharton’s first undergraduate, Raymond Pace Alexander, was born in Philadelphia in 1897 to a working class family. After his mother died in 1909, he was forced to support himself. This however, did not hinder Raymond’s academic performance as he entered Penn on scholarship in 1917 upon his graduation from Central High School. In just six years Raymond Alexander graduated from the Wharton School (1920) and Harvard Law School (1923). Not only is this an impressive feat for any man, for a Black man to do this during the 1920s is truly remarkable. While at Harvard, he met Sadie Tanner Mossell and the same year as his graduation, they wed.

After graduating from two of the most prestigious schools in their respective academic fields, Raymond and Sadie Alexander returned to Philadelphia. Soon after, he founded what would become “Philadelphia’s premier black law firm.” His achievements do not stop here. From 1933-1935 Alexander served as the president of the National Bar Association. He also served on the Philadelphia city council from 1951-1958 before becoming the first Black judge in the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia. In a more public scope, Raymond was well known for his legal representation on behalf of the NAACP in many cases, in addition to numerous racial or civil rights cases he served on. One of his most famous cases resulted in the end of segregation in Pennsylvania schools. Additionally, he worked with Thurgood Marshall to clear six falsely accused Blacks of murder. 1974 marked the end of the incredible of Raymond Pace Alexander.

Evan Lyons, W’14

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