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Detail of Biography - Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
Name :
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
Date :
Views :
332
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Birth Date :
02/01/1898
Birth Place :
Philadelphia
Death Date :
November 1, 1989
Biography - Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
[b]Alexander[/b] attended high school at the M Street High School (later Dunbar High School) in Washington, D.C., where she was encouraged to continue her education by the historian, Carter G. Woodson. After high school, Alexander was persuaded by her mother to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he family had strong ties. Her father, Aaron Albert Mossell, was a graduate of Lincoln University and the first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1888. Her uncle was Louis Baxter Moore, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

[b]Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, [/b] who accomplished many "firsts" during her lifetime, was born on January 2, 1898 in Philadelphia. Alexander was born in the house of her distinguished uncle, Henry Osawa Tanner, award-winning painter of religious subjects. She was the granddaughter of Benjamin Tucker Tanner, bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, editor of the Christian Recorder from 1868 to1884 and founding editor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, from 1884 to 1888.[br /]
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Alexander attended high school at the M Street High School (later Dunbar High School) in Washington, D.C., where she was encouraged to continue her education by the historian, Carter G. Woodson. After high school, Alexander was persuaded by her mother to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he family had strong ties. Her father, Aaron Albert Mossell, was a graduate of Lincoln University and the first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1888. Her uncle was Louis Baxter Moore, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.[br /]
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In 1918, Alexander received a B. S. in Education with senior honors, and in 1919, a M.A. in Economics, both from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1921, she received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, becoming one of the first black women to receive a doctorate and the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in economics. The title of her dissertation was, "The Standard of Living among One Hundred Negro Migrant Families in Philadelphia." Alexander was proud of her graduation, "I can well remember marching down Broad Street from Mercantile Hall to the Academy of Music where there were photographers from all over the world taking my picture." While at the University of Pennsylvania, Alexander was active in the Gamma Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which was the first African-American sorority at the University. In 1921, she became the first president of the Grand Chapter, the national organization of Delta Sigma Theta, serving for five years. [br /]
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After graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, she became an actuary with the black-owned North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1923, she married Raymond Pace Alexander who had just received his law degree from Harvard University and admitted to the Pennsylvania State Bar. Shortly after her marriage, she returned to college to study for a law degree. In 1927, she became the first African-American woman to receive a L.L. B. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and be admitted to the State Bar and practice law in Pennsylvania. She joined her husband's law firm and together they fought against discrimination and segregation in Philadelphia restaurants, hotels, and theaters. She was the first African-American woman to serve as assistant city solicitor of Philadelphia, and was elected secretary of the National Bar Association in 1943, the first woman to hold a national office in the Association.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman appointed Alexander to the President's Committee on Civil Rights. The report, issued during her tenure, entitled To Secure These Rights, became the basis for future civil rights policy decisions and legislation. In 1959, she opened her own law office and practiced there until 1976 when she joined the law firm of Atkinson, Myers and Archie. While practicing law, Alexander was active in over thirty local and national civic organizations.[br /]
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In 1974, Alexander received a fifth degree from the University of Pennsylvania, an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Part of the citation read: "As an active worker for civil rights, she has been a steady and forceful advocate on the national, state, and municipal scene, reminding people everywhere that freedoms are won not only by idealism but by persistence and will over a long time." In 1978, at the age of eighty-one, Alexander was appointed chairperson of the White House Conference on Aging. She died on November 1, 1989. [br /]
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According to McLean Tobin, author of The Black Female Ph.D., "Black professional women may shed light on the unique experience of a group that has conquered double discrimination. In most cases being both black and female produces a defeating situation." Sadie Alexander overcame this "double jeopardy," and paved the way for her "sisters" to pursue doctoral degrees.[br /]
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