Civil rights activist and politician Carl Rowan
Carl Rowan was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee on August 11, 1925. He grew up in the small town of McMinnville, Tennessee and graduated from Bernard High School in 1942 as the valedictorian. He went on to attend Tennessee State University for one year and then Washburn University for one year.
Rowan was one of the first African-Americans to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1947 and received a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota in 1948. He began his career in journalism writing for numerous African American newspapers in and around Minneapolis.
He went on to become a copywriter at The Minneapolis Tribune for two years and later became a staff writer, reporting exclusively on the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1961, Rowan took a job as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under then President John F. Kennedy. In that time, he also served as a delegate to the United Nations during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Rowan then took the job as U.S. Ambassador to Finland in 1963. In 1964, Rowan took a job as director of the U.S.I.A. under former President Lyndon B. Johnson. As director, he became the first African American to hold a seat on the National Security Council.
During the years 1966 to 1998, Rowan wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times. His name appeared on the master list of Nixon political opponents and Rowan was a 1995 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his commentaries. He remained politically active up until his death on September 23, 2000.