This Day in Black History: March 23, 1985

Patricia Roberts Harris, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, dies at 60.

Posted: 03/23/2012 07:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Social Security Administration)

On this day in 1985, political trailblazer, lawyer and educator Patricia Roberts Harris died from breast cancer at the age of 60. Most notably, Harris was appointed U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Jimmy Carter in 1977; she was the first Black female to hold both those key positions. In 2000, Harris was honored with a stamp by the U.S. Postal Service. She was also a civil rights activist attached to many social causes as well as an educator, serving as a professor of law at her alma maters, Howard University and George Washington University.

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