Sadie T.M. Alexander as a Graduate Student

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

By Susan Ahlborn

Sadie T.M. Alexander as a Graduate Student

University Archives

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, ED’18, GR’21, L’27, HON’74, poses in front of an automobile in 1920, when she was a graduate student in Penn Arts & Sciences. Alexander became the first Black woman in the nation to earn a Ph.D. in economics, the first to earn a law degree at Penn, to pass the bar and practice law in Pennsylvania, and to serve as assistant city solicitor of Philadelphia and as secretary of the National Bar Association. She was also appointed to the President’s Committee on Civil Rights by Harry S. Truman and named Chairperson of the White House Conference on Aging by Jimmy Carter.

Alexander’s lifetime of service is honored at Penn in ways including the Penn Alexander School, which serves Philadelphia children, and the endowed Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights chair currently held by Dorothy Roberts, who is also George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and Professor of Africana Studies.