Kobre & Kim Honors Sadie Alexander for Black History Month

February 11, 2021

In honor of Black History Month, Kobre & Kim is reflecting on the unique contributions made by African Americans both inside and outside the legal industry. Today, we celebrate pioneering civil rights lawyer and economist Sadie Alexander.

Ms. Alexander was born Sadie Tanner Mossell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 2, 1898. She would go on to study at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a bachelor’s degree in education, followed by a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in economics by 1921. She was only the second Black woman in the United States to earn a PhD and the first to do so in economics. However, even with two advanced degrees, she was unable to find work in Philadelphia. As a result, Ms. Alexander moved to North Carolina to work for a Black-owned insurance company where she eventually met her husband, attorney Richard Pace Alexander. 

The Alexanders returned to Philadelphia in 1923. Faced with a lack of opportunity in the fields of economics and education, Ms. Alexander decided to pursue the practice of law. She would become the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the first to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1927. Throughout her career, Ms. Alexander advocated for the advancement of civil rights through reform to both legal and economic policy, utilizing her deep reservoir of knowledge and experience. 

In 1947, Ms. Alexander was appointed by U.S. President Harry Truman to the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, where her tireless commitment to the protection of constitutional rights helped to produce work that serves as the foundation for much of the landmark civil rights legislation of the twentieth century.