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Pendleton, Clarence M., Jr.(1930–1988) - Politician, Chronology

howard university san recreation

Clarence Pendleton Jr. was an enigma, thought by some to be a role model to blacks and by others to be a traitor to blacks and black issues. Pendleton is best known as the conservative Republican chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Pendleton began working for black issues and ran a record-setting program as head of the San Diego Model Cities Program. Broadly stated, Pendleton believed in changing institutions rather than providing jobs or money on an individual basis.

Pendleton, who liked to be called Penny, was an only child, born in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 10, 1930 to middle-class parents, Clarence Pendleton Sr. and Edna Marie (Ramasur) Pendleton. The Pendletons moved to the District of Columbia when Pendleton was young. His father was the swimming coach at Howard University, the assistant director for the D.C. recreation department, and a lifeguard at the Banneker Recreation Center in the family’s neighborhood. Pendleton’s parents encouraged him to work; one of the jobs he regularly had was washing the steps of his neighbor, Mrs. Marshall, the mother of Thurgood Marshall. In high school, Pendleton was an exceptional athlete who dreamed of becoming a football player. While he did play center for the football tem, his strength was swimming. Pendleton’s tenacity in the pool could not be beat.

Howard University was a family tradition; both Pendleton’s father and grandfather had graduated from there. His grandfather graduated from Howard with a degree in law in 1896 and practiced law in Baltimore while Pendleton was growing up. His maternal grandfather graduated from St. Augustine College. Pendleton served as an altar boy for fifteen years at the Episcopal Church where his great-uncle was the rector. Pendleton grew up surrounded by exceptional role models who had great expectations of him. His goal was to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Pendleton graduated from Howard University with a B.S. He worked briefly for the D.C. recreation department while going to graduate school, but class work was interrupted when Pendleton joined the army. He served his time in a medical unit as a specialist third class at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Pendleton received an honorable discharge from the army in 1957. He returned to Howard and worked as a physical education instructor while completing his master’s degree in education in 1961.



Born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 10


Earns B.S. from Howard University


Earns MA in education from Howard University


Coaches at Howard University


Works as recreation coordinator, Baltimore’s Model Cities Agency


Serves as director of the Urban Affairs Department of the National Recreation and Parks Association; marries Margrite Krause


Moves to San Diego to work for the San Diego Model Cities Program


Becomes president of San Diego’s Urban League


Appointed chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

1987 Resigns from U.S. Commission on Civil Rights


Dies in San Diego, California on June 5

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