An African American First: Ms. Geraldine Whittington


Ms. Geraldine Whittington, affectionately known as “Gerri”, was the first African American presidential secretary in U.S. history. She received a personal invitation from the 36th President of the United States, Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, once he became president in 1963. Going from Vice President to President, President Johnson wanted a whole new slate of administration so after hearing nothing but positive things about her, he extended a job offer to her to which she accepted. She began working for President Johnson in January, 1964 & continued to work for him until he retired.

She was extremely dedicated to her job & it has been recorded that her fondest memory was when President Johnson stepped out of the Oval Office with Thurgood Marshall and shared the news that he was appointing Marshall as the first African American Supreme Court Justice.  Other than the President and Justice Marshall himself, Ms. Whittington was the first person to know of this historic nomination.

Ms. Whittington understood how difficult it can be to finance a college education for African Americans, so she set up a trust fund (in her name) for relatives attending a 4-year college or university. Ms. Whittington was a distant cousin of mine. It is an honor & a privilege to have been related to her.

Here is a video clip of Ms. Whittington on the 1960’s hit show “What’s My Line?” –


Do you have any famous ancestors? If not, do you have a personal relationship with someone who has made an impact on our society? –

4 thoughts on “An African American First: Ms. Geraldine Whittington

  1. I am the grand daughter of Mary Lena Lewis Tate founder of the Holiness church: The Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 1903. She was the first African American woman to be selected by an all male Bishopric council to head it’s organization in 1908.. Her life story is well-documented and is featured in a beautiful book: VISION by Meharry H. Lewis. Also, in the reference book by Jessie Carney Smith.

    1. WONDERFUL!!!! Does this mean your brother is Bishop Meharry Lewis?! I go to a COGIC church in Los Angeles, but I have heard of your great-grandmother before.

      Wow, it’s so nice to meet descendants of other great African Americans in history!!! It’s great that you have a book about your grandmother; I wish my family was so fortunate. How do you keep up with your family tree? I’m trying to get everything documented myself.

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