On this day in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the first African-American cabinet member, Robert C. Weaver. Weaver became head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
According to History.com, “As many of the country’s African Americans lived in run-down inner-city areas, appointing Weaver was an attempt to show his [Johnson’s] African-American constituency that he meant business” on improving race relations and eliminating the deterioration of urban areas.
Weaver had previous experience in the housing sector. He was a part of the ”Black Cabinet” in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration who specialized in housing, education and employment. In addition, “From 1955 to 1959, Weaver served as rent commissioner for the state of New York, and then went on to serve as head of the Housing and Home Finance Agency under President John F. Kennedy,” according to History.com.
In his role under President Johnson, Weaver expanded affordable housing programs and advocated for the passage of the Fair Housing Act.
According to his obituary in the New York Times, Weaver died in 1997 at the age of 89. You can read more about his accomplishments in that obituary.