Digital News Report- On January 13th 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a man by the name of Robert C Weaver the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A single appointment to a cabinet position over forty-three years ago is rarely an anniversary worth noting, but Weaver broke ground and laid the groundwork for future African-American politicians. He was the first black person to ever hold a cabinet post, which, just a week before we are about to elect the first black president, speaks volumes about the past few decades of this country.
A concern over how Weaver would interact with the Democratic South was one of many thoughts at the forefront of President Johnson’s mind during the selection process. At that time, HUD was a newly created position intended to benefit the poor, over three-quarters of which were African American. President Johnson reviewed over 200 applications for the position. Though he knew it would be controversial for many reasons, President Johnson eventually confirmed him as the first Secretary of HUD.
Weaver was active in the civil rights movement for many years. He joined Clark Foreman as an adviser on African American affairs for Harold Ickes’ Department of the Interior over concerns that African Americans receive their fair share from the New Deal. During his time at the DOI’s Public Works Administration, he made sure that African Americans were treated fairly, including adequate consideration in PWA-sponsored public housing.
Weaver also spent time on the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, Mayor’s Committee on Race Relations in Chicago, and wrote two books; Negro Labor; A National Problem and The Negro Ghetto, which explored segregation in the north. In the 1970’s he went on to become a Distinguished Professor of Urban Affairs at Hunter College in New York City, where he taught and directed the Urban Affairs Research Center for the next eight years.