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Honoring Her Legacy

"I knew well that the only way I could get that door open was to knock it down; because I knocked all of them down. Don't let anything stop you."

The First African American to Earn a Ph.D. in Economics

​In the United States, Dr. Alexander was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in economics and the second Black woman to earn a doctoral degree.


After completing graduate school, she found that many employers dismissed her credentials, despite her stellar record. This led her to pursue law school, making her the first African American to be awarded a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout the rest of her life, she worked with her husband in their co-owned law firm addressing issues pertaining to the civil rights of African Americans.


Her exceptional journey is honored today by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, of which she was the first national president and is dedicated to stellar college educated Black women.  Other entities honoring her legacy include the Black Law Student Association at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Elementary School. We hope to continue her incredible legacy by holding a conference for Black women in economics in her honor.


In recalling her academic journey, Dr. Alexander has said that “[She] knew well that the only way [she] could get that door open was to knock it down; because [she] knocked all of them down.” In the same fashion, we aim to break barriers and pursue excellence as aspiring economists and policy practitioners.

Learn More About Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander

Speech by Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter

Papers by Dr. Julianne Malveaux

The University of Pennsylvania Archives


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