Raymond Pace Alexander

Raymond Pace Alexander (October 13, 1897 – November 24, 1974) was an American civil rights leader, lawyer, politician, and the first African American judge appointed to the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Raymond Pace Alexander
Raymond Pace Alexander in 1943
Member of the Philadelphia City Council
from the 5th district
In office
January 7, 1952  January 5, 1959
Preceded byEugene J. Sullivan
Succeeded byThomas McIntosh
Judge of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas No. 4
In office
January 5, 1959  November 1974
Preceded byJohn Morgan Davis
Personal details
Raymond Pace Alexander

(1897-10-13)October 13, 1897
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedNovember 24, 1974(1974-11-24) (aged 77)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (1937–1940, after 1947)
Other political
Republican (before 1937, 1940–1947)
(m. 1923)
  • Politician
  • civil rights attorney
  • judge

Born and raised in Philadelphia, in 1920 he became the first black graduate of the Wharton School of Business. After graduation from Harvard Law School in 1923, Alexander became one of the leading civil rights attorneys in Philadelphia. He gained prominence as a black lawyer willing to fight for equal rights in the Berwyn desegregation case and represented black defendants in other high-profile cases, including the Trenton Six, a group of black men arrested for murder in Trenton, New Jersey.

Alexander began his involvement in politics with unsuccessful runs for a judgeship on the Court of Common Pleas in 1933 and 1937. In 1949 he was considered by President Harry S. Truman for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He finally won a seat on the Philadelphia City Council in 1951. After two terms on the city council, Alexander was appointed to a seat on the Court of Common Pleas and was re-elected to a ten-year term as a judge in 1959. He continued to work for racial equality throughout his time in the municipal government.

Alexander assumed senior status at mandatory retirement age in 1969 and died in 1974. His legacy is honored by a professorship at the University of Pennsylvania.