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Your Black History: Meet Dr. Andrew Brimmer, the first Black governor of the Federal Reserve

Dr. Andrew Brimmer

Your Black History: Meet Dr. Andrew Brimmer, the first Black governor of the Federal Reserve

By Victor Trammell

      The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States is a powerful financial entity responsible for managing America’s economy. There are 12 Federal Reserve banks in America, which carry out the functions of the nation’s central banking system.

     The knowledge needed to flourish in America’s financial sector are essential to any division of the business landscape. Though the professions of a financial analyst or an economist are not areas that suit my best skill set, I respect the hard work of top-notch financial practitioners. It is especially commendable to see Blacks succeed in the business finance sector, which is primarily dominated by white males.

     Today’s edition of Your Black History profiles a historic event on today’s date 47 years ago. On February 10, 1966 President Lyndon Johnson appointed Dr. Andrew Brimmer (pictured) to the Federal Reserve Bank’s Board of Governors. Brimmer was the first Black person ever to be appointed to one of the highest positions of our nation’s central bank.

     Andrew Brimmer was born on Sept. 13, 1926 in Newellton, La. Newellton is located in Louisiana’s Tensas Parish. He went to schools that were segregated through his youth. He eventually graduated from Tensas Rosenwald High School in St. Joseph, La. One of Brimmer’s high school classmates was Emmitt Douglas, a civil rights activist and leader of the Louisiana NAACP.

     Brimmer later served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1946. After his time in the military, Brimmer enrolled in the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He majored in finance and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington by 1951. In 1957, Andrew Brimmer received his doctorate’s degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     Dr. Brimmer began his career in finance working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as an economist. During this time he helped establish the first central bank in the African country of Sudan. Dr. Brimmer also served as the assistant secretary of economic affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce. President Lyndon Johnson eventually appointed Dr. Brimmer to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank, where he served for eight years.

     Dr. Andrew Brimmer’s life and historic achievements definitely opened the door for the modern Black American financial scholars of our time. People such as Michelle Singletary, Mellody Hobson, Kelvin Boston, and Dr. Boyce Watkins are examples of Black people who are experts in the areas of business and personal finance.

     Dr. Andrew Brimmer’s appointment to the Federal Reserve’s board is evidence that blacks have always been just as financially savvy as their white counterparts in the business world. For the most seasoned economist, today’s impossibilities are the founders of tomorrow’s opportunities. Economics is a tough job but I am grateful for the Blacks in America who are doing it.

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