From Hackensack to the White House: The Triumph and Travail of E. Frederic Morrow


  • Michael J. Birkner



Four decades after arranging a historic meeting in the White House of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and African-American leaders on June 23, 1958 former Eisenhower assistant Rocco Siciliano recounted the back-story of the meeting, highlighting its inherent drama and significance. In the course of sharing his recollections Siciliano paid tribute to an African-American member of the White House staff, E. Frederic Morrow, calling him a “true pioneer in the American black civil rights movement.” Added Siciliano: “[Morrow’s] impact on civil rights progress has yet to be appreciated.” Judging “impact” by one individual on a large-scale movement is tricky business. But, as this article notes, there should be no doubt that in serving President Eisenhower New Jersey native Fred Morrow advanced the civil rights cause. The fact that his five-and-a-half-year tenure as a black man in the White House was not always happy or consistently productive of the kinds of initiatives on behalf of racial equality that he advocated should not obscure his contributions.