Evans Bill Would Rename Federal Building in D.C. for African American Trailblazer from Philly

February 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON (Feb. 28, 2020) – Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA-3rd) has introduced a bill to rename a federal building in Washington after an African American trailblazer from Philadelphia.

Evans’ H.R. 5937 would rename the headquarters building of the U.S. Department of Transportation as the William T. Coleman, Jr., Federal Building. Coleman was the second African American ever to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford as secretary of transportation, serving from 1975 to 1977.

“Like me, Mr. Coleman was a graduate of Germantown High School in Philadelphia. I believe his life and career are worthy of national honor. He played a major role in some significant civil rights cases. He began his legal career by breaking a barrier – he was the first African American to serve as a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Evans said.

Within a few years, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall asked Coleman to be one of the lead strategists and co-author of the NAACP’s legal brief in the landmark case of Brown versus Board of Education. Coleman went on to serve in several roles with the NAACP, including as president of the board of its legal defense and education fund.

Coleman also served on the Warren Commission that investigated the murder of President Kennedy and personally interviewed Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who denied any involvement.

After Coleman’s service in the Cabinet, he went on to render more service to the nation, including successfully arguing a case against discrimination before the Supreme Court.

Evans said, “I want to thank Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey for working to pass a similar bill in the Senate, and I am pleased with the bipartisan support my bill to honor Mr. Coleman has received in the House.”

Evans’ bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Conor Lamb and Mary Gay Scanlon, all D-Pa.; and Fred Keller, Dan Meuser, Guy Reschenthaler and Glenn Thompson, all R-Pa.

Evans represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South, Southwest and Center City Philadelphia.