Thursday, September 15, 2011

Clement Garnet Morgan

Clement Garnett Morgan was born in Stafford County, Virginia, on 9 January 1859. His slave parents, on being emancipated, moved to Washington, where he attended high school. Morgan then worked as a barber and went to St. Louis to teach school for four years. Moving to Boston, he spent two years at Boston Latin School as preparation for entering Harvard College at the age of 27. Barbering and substantial scholarships covered most of his expenses. As a junior he won first prize in the annual oratory contest (the second prize going his black classmate W.E.B. Du Bois). He received his bachelor’s degree in1890, proceeding directly to Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1893 – the school’s third black graduate and the first of his race to hold degrees from both the College and Law School.
For the rest of his life he resided in Cambridge and maintained a law practice in the same Boston office at 39 Court Street. 

He was active in Republican politics and, elected from an almost all-white ward, served on the Cambridge Common Council in 1895 and 1896 and on the Board of Aldermen in 1898 and 1899, but thrice was an unsuccessful aspirant to the state legislature. Ever the agitator, he was in 1903 largely successful responsible for the closing of a segregated school for 33 black children in the western Massachusetts town of Sheffield. 

In 1905, Morgan became a founding member of the Niagara Movement (1905-1910), and headed its Massachusetts branch. In 1909, he followed W. E.B. Du Bois into the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). For the remainder of his life, he continued to fight for African American rights through his profession and through protest activities. Clement Garnett Morgan died at Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 1 June 1929.


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