#Remembering Azie Taylor Morton: The First and Only African American to serve as Treasurer of the United States

by Duchess Magazine
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Azie Taylor Morton: The First and Only African American to serve as Treasurer of the United States

Black women have left their mark in various spheres regardless of staggering limitations paving way for others.

It’s no news, the finance industry from time immemorial has been hugely male-dominated, but Morton’s brilliance and hard work singled her out and she was able to crash ceilings during her lifetime and even after death. Her signature stamped in everyday transactions all over the world, leaving a lasting legacy.

Teacher and politician Azie Taylor Morton’s legacy as the only African American to hold the position of Treasurer of the United States – September 12, 1977, to January 20, 1981 holds till today. She was the 36th Treasurer of the United States.

Born February 1, 1936, in the small community of St. John Colony of Dale, Texas to mother, Fleta Hazel Taylor, who was deaf and mute, a young Azie Taylor didn’t know her father and was raised by her maternal grandparents on a small farm.

Her early teenage years were spent working in the cotton fields before later proceeding to the Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School, during her high school years although she was not blind, deaf, or an orphan, but owing to the lack of high school for African Americans in Dale. At age 16 she graduated top of her class.

An excellent student, in 1952 Taylor enrolled in Huston-Tillotson University, an all-black college in Austin, Texas. Four years later she graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in commercial education. Her attempt to enroll in the University of Texas’s graduate program didn’t come to fruition because of segregationist policies.

Taylor then took up her first job as a teacher at the Crocker School for Girls, a state-sponsored school for delinquent girls. A year and some months later she went on to work on President Kennedy’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. There she remained for two decades, serving in various capacities.

In 1965, she married James Homer Morton. The pair had two daughters.

1977 would rewrite the course of history when President Jimmy Carter requested her to serve as the 36th Treasurer of the U.S., she accepted and held the post from September 12th, 1977 until January 20th, 1981.

Azie Taylor a member of the American Delegation to Rome, Italy for the Enthronement of Pope John Paul II in 1978; Chair of the People to People Mission to the Soviet Union and China in 1986; and an Election Observer for Presidential elections in Haiti, Senegal, and the Dominican Republic. She also was a representative of the first African/African American Conference held in Africa.

1999 – 2001, saw Azie serve on the Austin Housing Authority Board of Commissioner (HACA). As per her usual culture, her excellent service at the HACA inspired the creation of the Azie Morton Scholarship Fund for low-income students at Huston-Tillotson.

She was a member of an extensive list of organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Sadly, on December 6th, 2003, Azie Taylor Morton experienced a stroke at her home in Austin Texas, and died the following day from complications due to the stroke at age 67. Her husband died the same year in January 2003.

Morton was survived by her two daughters.



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