Harry Augustus Cole

In Maryland's history, Harry A. Cole was a man of famous firsts. Cole was born on January 1, 1921 in Washington DC.  At a young age, his father died and his mother moved the family to Baltimore City. During his years at Morgan State College, Cole grew into the role of a leader among the student body, serving as Student Council President, creating the school's student-run newspaper, and becoming involved in civil activism. After his graduation and tour of duty in the US Army, Cole enrolled in law school at the University of Maryland. Cole began his career in law working with the NAACP in 1949. From 1953-1954, Cole served as assistant attorney general of Maryland. The position made him the first African American to work in the attorney general's office. During this stage in his career, politics began to catch Cole's attention. In 1950 he tried unsuccessfully to obtain a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates, and in 1951 he lost his bid for a seat in the Baltimore City Council. However, his position as assistant attorney general made him a serious contender for the Maryland Senate. In the 1954 election, Cole won the vote, and became the first African American to serve in the Senate. After serving only one term, Cole returned to the world of law, serving on the Municipal Court and the Supreme Bench before achieving another momentous first. In 1977, Governor Blair Lee III appointed Cole to the vacant judicial seat in the Maryland State Court of Appeals. Cole was the first African American to hold such a prestigious position. After serving until the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1991, Cole's last great "first" came in 1995 when he was elected the first Morgan alumnus to serve as Chairman of the University's Board of Regents. Cole died on February 14, 1999.         

Picture of Senator Harry A. Cole

Judge Cole Sworn In to Maryland Court of Appeals

Judge Cole and the Court of Appeals

February: Eubie Blake (1883)

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