Reginald E. Gilliam Jr., a veteran African-American lobbyist and activist, died on March 28 after losing his battle with lymphoma, Sodexo announced. He was 67.
Gilliam, a Harlem native, was a senior vice president for Sodexo’s government affairs department in Gaithersburg, Md. Sodexo, a food and facilities management company, is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Gilliam received his undergraduate degree from Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard Law School and helped found the Harvard Black Law Student Association in 1967 and served as its first chairman. As a law student, he worked on the legal defense for famed Harlem politician, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, was a Voting Rights Act poll watcher in the South and served on neighborhood safety patrols in Harlem.
In 1975, he was appointed Legislative Council to freshman Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio). Gilliam was one of the first African-Americans to achieve senior status in the Senate and helped draft legislation into laws in education, economic development and urban arson.
Gilliam served as vice chairman and commissioner of the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission under President Jimmy Carter. He was also on the board of trustees for Williams College, Lincoln University and the University of the District of Columbia.
In 1998, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Harvard Black Law Association. In 2011, he received the President’s Award for Leadership and Excellence from the Washington Government Relations Group, the oldest organization for African-American government relations professionals.
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