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The Gainsboro History Project

Edward Richard Dudley (1911-2005)  was the son of Dr. Edward Dudley, Gainsboro’s first Black dentist. He grew up in the home at 405 Gilmer Ave, next door to Oliver White Hill’s boyhood home. He was the first Black ambassador for the United States and an accomplished lawyer and judge.

  • In 1932, Dudley graduated from Johnson C. Smith College in North Carolina. Following graduation, he taught Black children in a one-room school in Virginia and quickly learned about pay inequities. He drove a school bus to supplement his teacher salary.
  • He studied dentistry at Howard University for a year and then moved to New York, working odd jobs to support himself.
  • In 1938, Dudley enrolled in law school at St. John’s University in New York City.He received his degree in 1941 and was in private practice for a short time. He became active in politics.
  • In 1943, he joined the NAACP Legal Defense Team as assistant special counsel and prepared cases dealing with the admission of Black students to Southern colleges, equal pay for Black teachers, and racial discrimination in public transportation.
  • From 1945-47, Dudley worked for the governor of the Virgin Islands.
  • From 1949-1953, he served under President Harry S. Truman as the first Black ambassador to Liberia.
    Old Photo of Ambassador Dudley with a photographer next to him. He is shown in a suit looking into the distance
    Ambassador Edward R. Dudley (left) in Liberia. Courtesy of the National Museum of American Diplomacy.
  • From 1953-55, Dudley again practiced law for the NAACP and directed the NAACP Freedom Fund, an intensive initiative to further job emancipation.
  • In 1955, he became a judge for the Domestic Relations Court in New York.
  • In 1961, Dudley was elected president of Manhattan Borough in New York City and served until 1964 when he was appointed to the New York Supreme Court. He continued to serve in judicial capacities for various state courts until his retirement in 1985.

See Also


Dudley, Edward R. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2022, from

Edward Dudley house—Gainsboro history walk. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2022, from

Office of the historian. (n.d.). Edward Richard Dudley (1922-2005). Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from

McClellan, C. (2015, April 1). Edward Richard Dudley (1911-2005).

Saxon, W. (2005, Feb. 11). Edward R. Dudley, 93, civil rights advocate and judge, dies. New York Times.