Senators Introduce Bill to Name DOT Headquarters After First African American Secretary

January 28, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation along with Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Tim Scott, R-S.C., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.,introduced the William T. Coleman Jr. Department of Transportation Headquarters Act. This legislation would name the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters after William T. Coleman, Jr., the fourth United States Secretary of Transportation and first African American to serve in the position. 

“As an accomplished legal scholar, World War II veteran, and civil rights leader, Mr. Coleman had already made his mark on history before being selected to serve as Secretary of Transportation,” Wicker said. “While at DOT, he provided a forward-looking vision for the future of transportation, spearheading the first comprehensive national transportation policy study and several important reform efforts. Naming the Department of Transportation headquarters after Secretary Coleman would be a fitting tribute for this distinguished public servant.”

“William T. Coleman Jr. devoted his life to public service,” said Barrasso. “He championed the cause of civil rights in the courts and became the first African American Secretary of Transportation. I am pleased to cosponsor bipartisan legislation to name the Department of Transportation headquarters after Mr. Coleman.” 

“The work and service of the civil rights leader and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, William Thaddeus Coleman, is unknown to far too many Americans. This measure will commemorate a man that Americans will now remember and honor for generations to come,” Carper said.

“This Black History month, we honor the pioneering public servant, William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. Secretary Coleman who was the first African American to serve as Secretary of  the Department of Transportation and helped pave the way for folks like myself to enter into public service,” said Scott. “I am proud to join my colleagues in dedicating the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Transportation after Secretary Coleman.”

“William T. Coleman Jr. was one of Pennsylvania’s most distinguished sons, and his lifelong work promoting equality and fairness had a profound impact on our country. Serving as the first African-American law clerk on the Supreme Court, the first African-American Secretary of Transportation, and having coauthored the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education to help desegregate public schools, Mr. Coleman was a trailblazer. His legacy is so impressive that former President Clinton rightly saw fit to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is entirely appropriate that the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters be named after this great Philadelphian,” said Toomey.

“As we prepare to celebrate the start of Black History Month, I am proud to cosponsor this bill to rename the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters after the late William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., a Philadelphia native who was the first African-American to serve as Secretary of Transportation,” said Casey. “From arguing 19 cases in front of the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, to his time at the helm of the Department of Transportation, Secretary Coleman exemplified the virtues of public service and I look forward to honoring his legacy, ”

To read the bill, click here.

The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over the DOT.