The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, September 19, 2005

Something You May Have Missed

Cora Faye Dixon Clayton passed away recently. About all of you are now asking who she was, so here's her story:

Cora Faye Dixon Clayton, a San Antonio native who served on the staff of the late U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez for 30 years, has died of cancer at 64.

She was the first African American congressional staff member from south of the Mason-Dixon Line, according to Gail Beagle, chief of staff for the San Antonio Democrat, who retired in 1988 after 37 years in Congress.

Clayton died Wednesday in Houston, where she was living near her two daughters. A memorial service in San Antonio is pending.

After he won a special election in November 1961, Gonzalez told the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that he would hire a black staff member.

Several people applied, and Gonzalez picked Clayton, whose previous job had been at the Fort Sam Houston library.

A newlywed, Clayton was part of the original staff that accompanied the new congressman to Washington.

She spent several years in Gonzalez's office until she moved back to San Antonio to work in his district office, from which she retired in 1991.

In 1961, several years before the passage of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts, Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez hired the first African-American staffer to serve for a Congressman south of the Mason-Dixon line. Here's to his courage and integrity and to a great woman who worked by his side.