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Black Facts for February 23rd

1955 - Slater, Rodney (1955- )

Rodney E. Slater, former cabinet member, attorney, and state government official, was born in Marianna, Arkansas, on February 23, 1955.  In 1977, Slater graduated from Eastern Michigan University. He earned his law degree in 1980 from the University of Arkansas.

In 1980, Slater became the Assistant Attorney General for the litigation division for Arkansas’s Attorney General’s Office.  From 1983 to 1987, Slater served as Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s executive assistant for Economic and Community Programs and then as the Special Assistant for Community and Minority Affairs.  In 1987, Clinton appointed Slater to the Arkansas Highway Commission.  Slater also held other positions in the state of Arkansas such as Director of Governmental Relations at Arkansas State University and was a special liaison for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Slater as the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.   Slater’s effectiveness in that position catapulted him into the position of Secretary of Transportation in 1997.  As Secretary, he oversaw transportation projects between federal and state governments.

In June of 2001, Slater joined the private sector as a director of the Kansas City Southern, Inc, a major interstate railroad.  Slater also became a partner in the public policy practice group of a leading Washington, D.C. law firm, Patton Boggs LLP.  While there he concentrated on transportation law.  

Slater has received numerous honors such as an honorary doctorate from Howard University, the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award from the Hugh O’Brian Leadership Foundation, the Lamplighter Award for Public Service from The Black Leadership Forum, and the Trailblazer Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  In 1998, he also received awards from The Congressional Black Caucus; Ebony Magazine, The National Bar Association, and The Arkansas Times. 

In 2006, Slater belonged to a group of investors that purchased the Washington Nationals, the Major League

1881 - Boseman, Benjamin Anthony (1840-1881)

Benjamin A. Boseman, physician, politician, and postmaster, was free born in New York in 1840 to Benjamin A. and Annaretta Boseman.  He was the oldest of five children, two girls and three boys.  Boseman grew up in Troy, New York where his father served as a steward on the steamboat Empire in the mid-1800s and then as a sutler (a civilian merchant selling provisions to the army).

Boseman was educated in the segregated schools of Troy and showed an interest in becoming a physician.  At the age of 16, he began an eight year apprenticeship in the office of prominent Troy physician Dr. Thomas C. Brinsmade, before completing his education at the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College, where he received his medical degree in 1864.  

With his degree in hand, Boseman turned his efforts towards obtaining a position as a surgeon with the Union Army during the American Civil War.  After writing to Acting Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes requesting a position as a surgeon with the “colored regiments,” Boseman received an appointment as a contract acting assistant surgeon.  He was assigned to a recruiting position for the United States Colored Troops (USCT) at Camp Foster in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and served for a year examining recruits and tending to sick and wounded soldiers of the 21st regiment of the USCT.  

After the war ended, Boseman remained in South Carolina taking up residence in Charleston where he set up a successful medical practice.  He met and married Virginia Montgomery and the couple had two sons, Benjamin and Christopher.  In 1868, Boseman was among several African Americans who were elected to Congress for the first time in South Carolina.  He became the only politician, black or white, elected to three consecutive terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives during Reconstruction.  During his term, Boseman introduced several pieces of legislation in an attempt to outlaw racial discrimination in the state.  

In addition to his political service as a representative, Boseman was appointed

Black Sands: Legends of Kemet Alpha Footage

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