January 10, 1980
U.W. Clemon is an attorney, a former Alabama state senator and former federal judge and was the first African-American to serve as a federal judge in Alabama. President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama on this day in 1980. Clemon rose to become the district’s chief judge from 1999 to 2006, succeeding Sam Pointer Jr., and served 29 years before retiring from the bench in January 2009. Clemon grew up in the community of Westfield as the youngest of nine children. His father was a former sharecropper from Mississippi who came to Birmingham to become a steelworker. Clemon was the valedictorian of his 1961 class at Westfield High School and attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia for a year before returning to Birmingham to complete his bachelor’s degree at Miles College. Clemon and his wife, Barbara, have two adult children, Isaac and Michelle. He was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2018.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.