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Rodney E. Slater

Lawyer Rodney Slater was born on February 23, 1955, in Tutwyler, Mississippi. By the age of six, Slater was picking cotton with his mother in order to earn money for a bicycle, and he continued to pick cotton throughout his youth to supplement the family income. He attended Eastern Michigan University on a scholarship, where he was captain of the football team and star of Eastern Michigan's national championship forensic team, graduating in 1977. He went on to attend the University of Arkansas School of Law, earning a J.D. degree in 1980.

Slater became an assistant Attorney General upon graduation from law school, and he remained in that position until 1982. It was during that time that he met then-governor Bill Clinton. In 1983, Clinton named him one of his assistants, where he worked first in the economic and community affairs areas, and then later as special assistant for community and minority affairs. In 1987, Clinton named Slater to the Arkansas Highway Commission, where he became chairman in 1992. During this time, Slater served as director of government affairs for Arkansas State University. Following the election of Clinton as President of the United States, Slater was named the director of the Federal Highway Administration, and in 1997, he was named Secretary of Transportation, a position he held until the end of the Clinton administration. Today he is with the law firm of Patton Boggs LLP.

Slater is involved in numerous civic organizations, including the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Community for the Future, the Boy Scouts of America and the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, among others. He has been named one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony, and has received an Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award and an honorary doctorate from Howard University. Slater and his wife, Cassandra Wilkins, have two children.

Accession Number

A2003.267

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/14/2003

Last Name

Slater

Maker Category
Middle Name

E.

Organizations
Schools

Anna Strong Elementary School

Anna Strong Middle School

Lee High School

Eastern Michigan University

University of Arkansas

First Name

Rodney

Birth City, State, Country

Tutwyler

HM ID

SLA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/23/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thanksgiving Dinner

Short Description

Transportation lawyer and cabinet appointee Rodney E. Slater (1955 - ) is the former U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Employment

State of Arkansas

Arkansas Highway Commission

Arkansas State University

Federal Highway Administration

United States Department of Transportation

Patton Boggs LLP

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rodney E. Slater's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rodney E. Slater lists his favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rodney E. Slater lists his favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rodney E. Slater describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rodney E. Slater talks about his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rodney E. Slater recalls his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rodney E. Slater recounts stories from his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rodney E. Slater describes his stepfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rodney E. Slater recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rodney E. Slater talks about the symbolic role of railroad tracks during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rodney E. Slater recalls the intellectual community of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and the legacy of Mary Jane McLeod Bethune

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rodney E. Slater recalls his years at Strong Elementary School in Marianna, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rodney E. Slater describes the history of eastern Arkansas and its role in southern politics, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rodney E. Slater describes the history of eastern Arkansas and its role in southern politics, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rodney E. Slater reflects upon his education at Anna P. Strong Middle School in Marianna, Arkansas and his mentors growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rodney E. Slater talks about integration at Lee Senior High School in Lee County, Arkansas and throughout the South

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rodney E. Slater describes a student strike at Lee Senior High School in Lee County, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rodney E. Slater describes getting a football scholarship to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rodney E. Slater describes getting a football scholarship to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rodney E. Slater recalls how he became interested in public speaking

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rodney E. Slater recalls those who helped him gained entrance into Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rodney E. Slater describes the social and intellectual environment at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rodney E. Slater describes the cultural environment at Eastern Michigan University, and his interest competitive public speaking

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rodney E. Slater describes joining the forensics team at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rodney E. Slater describes a 1927 lynching in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rodney E. Slater describes a powerful after-dinner speech about stereotypes he watched at Eastern Michigan University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rodney E. Slater describes a powerful after-dinner speech about stereotypes he watched at Eastern Michigan University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rodney E. Slater recalls the 1977 college forensics championships in Washington, D.C. and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rodney E. Slater recalls public speaking advice from a colleague at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rodney E. Slater talks about President Bill Clinton's oratorical skills and about prominent African American athletes

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rodney E. Slater reflects upon his role as a student athlete in raising awareness of Eastern Michigan University's forensics team

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rodney E. Slater talks about college football since the 1970s