Raymond Pace Alexander

A native Philadelphian, Raymond Pace Alexander was born in 1897 into a large working-class family. His mother died shortly after the birth of his youngest sibling, and Raymond was self-supporting from the age of twelve. He entered the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1917. While at Penn, Brother Alexander served as a founding charter member of the Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. He went on to graduate from the Wharton School in 1920 and from Harvard Law School in June 1923.

He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and entered practice in August 1923, specializing in criminal law. He began his career in the office of John R.K. Scott, a successful trial lawyer. In November 1923, he married Sadie Tanner Mossell. Between 1924 and 1950, he served as an advocate in a number of important civil cases involving issues of racial discrimination and segregation in public accommodations. He was also a defense attorney in numerous criminal cases, many of which involved a racial aspect or civil rights issue. Some of his cases were highly sensational and his success in litigation brought him a great deal of publicity.

From 1949 to 1951, he was active in the Clark- Dilworth reform democratic movement, supporting the Home Rule Charter for Philadelphia. In 1951, he won election to City Council under the new charter. He was re-elected to Council in 1955. From 1952 to 1956, he chaired the Committee on Recreation, and from 1956 to 1959, the Committee on Public Property and Public Works. In January 1959, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Court of Common Pleas No. 4 by Governor George M. Leader. He was elected to a full ten-year term on the Court in the following November. After his term expired in 1970, he continued in the capacity of Senior Judge until his death in 1974.

Raymond Pace Alexander (October 13, 1897 – November 24, 1974) was a civil rights leader, lawyer, politician, and the first African American judge appointed to the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas. After graduation from Harvard Law School in 1923, Alexander became one of the leading civil rights attorneys in Philadelphia. He represented black defendants in high-profile cases, including the Trenton Six, a group of black men arrested for murder in Trenton, New Jersey. Alexander also entered the political realm, running for judge several times before being elected to a seat on the Philadelphia City Council in 1951. After two terms in that office, Alexander was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas, the first black judge to sit on that court. He served on the Common Pleas Court until his death in 1974.