1979 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Get involved in the issues that affect your daily life."
Born on a farm in Dales, Texas, in 1936, Azie Taylor Morton never knew her father. Her mother, who was deaf, relied heavily on her own parents to help raise her daughter. An excellent student, Morton attended high school at Austin's State School for the Blind, Deaf and Orphaned, qualifying because of her mother's disability. She graduated at the age of 16 and attended Huston-Tillotson College in Austin.
After earning her degree, Morton taught at a state-supported school for delinquent girls. One year later, she returned her alma mater to serve as assistant to the president of Huston-Tillotson. She became the only black member of the local chapter of the AFL-CIO, and when the union president moved to Washington, D.C., in 1961 to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor, Morton went to serve on President Kennedy's Committee of Equal Employment Opportunity. She spent the next several years serving in various government positions, including staff assistant to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the District of Columbia. Active politically, she was special assistant to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her the thirty-sixth Treasurer of the United States, a position she held until 1981.
Of her careers in government and business, Morton said she learned that nothing in life is given to you. "You have to earn your success and put forth maximum effort to achieve it. It is my hope that the day will come when individuals elected or appointed to public office will be described by their qualifications and character, with no indication of gender, color, national origin, or religion. When such a day arrives, the United States will have achieved true maturity as a nation."* Deceased