PHILADELPHIA — Former U.S. Rep. William H. Gray III, who rose to influential positions in Congress and was the first black to become majority whip, died Monday at 71.
Born in Baton Rouge, La., Gray graduated from Franklin & Marshall College and Drew Theological Seminary in Jersey City, N.J., before being elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1978. He served as chairman of the powerful budget committee and became the first African-American in the 20th century to become majority whip of the U.S. House. During his tenure, he authored legislation implementing economic sanctions against South Africa.
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