Robert N. C. Nix Sr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Nix
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania
In office
May 20, 1958 – January 3, 1979
Preceded byEarl Chudoff
Succeeded byBill Gray
Constituency4th district (1958–63)
2nd district (1963–79)
Personal details
Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix

(1898-08-09)August 9, 1898
Orangeburg, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 1987(1987-06-22) (aged 88)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationLincoln University, Pennsylvania (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (LLB)

Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix Sr. (August 9, 1898 – June 22, 1987) was an American politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1958 until 1979. He was the first African American to represent Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives. The Robert N. C. Nix Federal Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, he attended Townsend Harris High School in New York City and graduated from Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) in 1921.[2] He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and began practicing in Philadelphia.[1] After entering private practice, Nix became active in the Democratic Party as a committeeman from the fourth ward in 1932. He became a special assistant deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1934 and delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention.

United States House of Representatives[edit]

In 1958, he defeated two opponents in a special election to fill a congressional vacancy left by Earl Chudoff in the House of Representatives.[3] An elected official who rarely wanted or attracted widespread publicity, he supported mostly liberal legislation. He was reelected 10 times. He worked for the passage of the landmark legislation promoting the American Civil Rights Movement and privately sought to prevent the House from denying Rep. Adam Clayton Powell his seat in 1967. In 1962, he became the first member of congress to knowingly meet with gay activists, when he invited Frank Kameny to his office.[4] In 1975, he introduced an amendment to the Foreign Military Sales Act requiring the Defense Department to provide the U.S. Congress with information on identities of agents who negotiate arms sales for American firms.

Committee service[edit]

Congressman Nix served on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. He was the chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service[5] and the chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy. Congressman Nix served 20 years before losing to William H. Gray III in the primary in 1978.[6]


Congressman Nix's son, Robert N. C. Nix Jr., became the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Pennsylvania when he was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.


In 1985, the United States court house and post office building in Philadelphia was renamed the Robert N. C. Nix Sr. Federal Building and United States Post Office in honor of Nix.

Famous quote[edit]

  • "Be prepared, be sharp, be careful, and use the King's English well. And you can forget all the [other rules] unless you remember one more: Get paid."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hornsby, Alton (2011). Black America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO pp. 730–731. ISBN 978-1573569767.
  2. ^ "Nix men involved in political scene". Philadelphia Tribune. September 3, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  3. ^ "Robert Nix Sr. dead at 88". United Press International. June 22, 1987. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Cervini, Eric (2020). The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. p. 103. ISBN 978-0374139797.
  5. ^ "Nix, Robert Nelson Cornelius, Sr". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  6. ^ Yardley, William (July 2, 2013). "William H. Gray III, Pastor and Lawmaker, Dies at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Civil Service Committee
Succeeded by