(Photo: Public Domain)
With his election as president of the borough of Manhattan in 1953, Hulan E. Jack became the highest-ranking African-American municipal of a major city up until this time.
Jack, who was born in St. Lucia in 1905, spent his early years in British Guiana before coming to the United States. He worked as a janitor at a paper box factory and eventually rose to the position of vice president of the company. At the same time, he became active in New York City politics, particularly in the legendary Tammany Hall operation.
He won several elections to the New York State Assembly, representing Harlem. He was best known for his attempts to pass legislation aimed at combating racial segregation in the state’s public schools.
In 1959, Jack was convicted by an all-white jury of accepting a financial gift and conspiring to hide it. He was given a one-year suspended sentence, which effectively ended his time in elective office. He later wrote an autobiography, Fifty Years a Democrat. He died of cancer in 1986.
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