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Charles T. Duncan
Charles T. Duncan


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First General Counsel of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, First African American President of the District of Columbia Bar Association, first chair of the DC Judicial Selection Commission, and former Dean, Howard University School of Law. Charles T. Duncan was born in Washington, D.C., on October 31, 1924, the only child of Gladys Jackson Duncan, a public school teacher, and the late Dr. Charles Tignor. His stepfather is the late Todd Duncan, world renowned opera singer-baritone famous for his portrayal of Porgy in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and for “breaking the color barrier” in American opera. After starting his education in the D.C. public school system, Duncan entered Mount Hermon Preparatory School for Boys in the tenth grade. After graduation, he went on to Dartmouth College, where he graduated cum laude in 1947, having also concurrently served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1945 to 1946. He went on to study law at Harvard Law School, graduating in 1950. Duncan began his legal practice in New York, but by 1953 he had moved back to Washington, D.C., to partner and practice in the law firm of Reeves, Robinson & Duncan. He worked on the second brief presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. Duncan was also a lecturer at Howard University School of Law between 1954 and 1960. In 1961, he became the principal assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and in 1965, he was appointed the first general counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He later went to work for the District of Columbia as corporation counsel, where he oversaw all legal affairs of the District and was second in line to the mayor. Duncan returned to private practice in 1970 with the firm of Epstein, Friedman, Duncan & Medalie. In 1974, Duncan became dean of the Howard University School of Law, and served until 1977. He continued to teach for another year before returning to private practice in 1978. By 1984, he had joined the firm of Reid & Priest as a partner, serving as senior counsel from 1990 to 1994. Appointed by the Secretary of State to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in 1994, he lived and served in Hague, Netherlands until 2000. Duncan now serves as a senior trustee for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. On the board of directors of several companies, including Proctor & Gamble and Eastman Kodak, he is a former trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society, and has also served on the boards of the Washington Urban League and the Columbia Hospital for Women. Duncan has one son, Todd with his late wife, Dorothy. He and his wife Pamela reside in Maryland.


 
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