Financial History Issue 118 (Summer 2016) - Page 27
50 years ago,
broke the color
barrier at the Fed
By Gregory DL Morris
As voters consider the possibility of the
first black President in US history being
succeeded by the first woman President
in US history, that socio-political change
would reflect a similar series of changes
that took place on the Federal Reserve
board decades earlier. Fifty years ago,
Andrew Brimmer became the first black
member of the Fed’s Board of Governors.
He served until 1974. Four years later,
Nancy H. Teeters, previously chief economist for the House Budget Committee,
became the first woman to serve on the
In Brimmer’s brief eight and a half years
on the board, he became known as an
expert on international monetary policy,
according to the Fed’s official biography.
From the start he joined other tightmoney members on the board in supporting a gradual increase in interest rates
to fight inflation. He was also a man of
perspicacity. When Congress raised taxes
and cut spending to curb inflation, he was
one of the first board members to call for
the reduction of interest rates.
In later years, he used his position on
the board to draw attention to the economic plight of black Americans. Brimmer left the Fed before the end of his
14-year term to join the faculty of Harvard
Business School. He taught there for two
years before founding his own consulting
firm, Brimmer & Company.
From 1995 to 1997, Brimmer led the
District of Columbia financial control
board, which Congress created to manage
the city’s troubled finances. His daughter,
Esther Brimmer, is a professor of international affairs at George Washington
University in DC.
The Federal Reserve Board with Andrew Brimmer
(back row, second from right), 1970.