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Delano Lewis

African American attorney, businessman, and diplomat.  Born: November 12, 1938. Died: August 2, 2023.

Born in 1938 in Arkansas City, Delano Eugene Lewis moved with his family to Kansas City, Kansas, at a young age and graduated from Kansas City schools. He went on to graduate from the University of Kansas in 1960 in Lawrence and Washburn University School of Law in 1963 in Topeka.

Lewis became an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and later with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. From 1966 to 1969 he served as a director of the Peace Corps in both Nigeria and Uganda. From 1969 to 1973 he was a legislative assistant, first for Senator Edward Brooke and later for Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy.

He began working as public affairs manager for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company in Washington, D.C., in 1973 and worked his way up to CEO in 1990. He became active in effort to establish "home rule" for Washington, D.C. and was described as a power broker in Washington, D.C. politics.  In 1993 he became the first African American to serve as CEO for National Public Radio, a position he held until 1998.

He attempted to retire to New Mexico but was asked to serve as U.S. ambassador to South Africa, which he did from 1999 to 2001. He returned to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  He was named a senior fellow at New Mexico State University, and in 2007 became the founding director of the university's International Relations Institute. He was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 2008.

Entry: Lewis, Delano

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2009

Date Modified: August 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.