First black member of the Fed Reserve Board considered education the pathway the economic success

Andrew F. Brimmer, who became the first black member of the Federal Reserve Board when he was appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, passed away last Sunday according to the New York Times.

Born in 1926, Dr. Brimmer grew up in rural segregated Louisiana and likely attended Rosenwald schools as a child. Many sources list him as graduating from the Tensas Rosenwald High School in St. Joseph, Louisiana in 1943. The Times article explains that “the economic conditions of poor, powerless, uneducated blacks was an abiding concern,” of Dr. Brimmer’s career, and his time spent in segregated schools likely instilled this ethic in him.

 Brimmer being sworn in as a member of the Federal Reserve Board in 1966
Photo credit: LBJ Presidential Library

Brimmer also served on the board of Tuskegee University for four decades. Later in his career, the Washington Post reports, he became the director of the Washington D.C. financial control board, a federal authority that took over decision-making for the D.C. city government. At the time he faced fierce criticism from Mayor Marion Barry and Eleanor Holmes Norton, but since then the progress the city government made under his watch has been recognized by economists.

By Michael Rose