William Clarence Matthews was a pioneering athlete, politician, and lawyer.
Matthews was born the third oldest child to William Matthews, a tailor, and Elizabeth Matthews in Selma, Alabama on January 7, 1877. He enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute after high school with the help of Booker T. Washington. He later attended Harvard University where he became a standout baseball player. During all four years, the Harvard team faced boycotts and tension on and off the field. In his first season, Matthews was held out of games against Navy and Virginia; in his second year, the team called off its annual southern trip altogether.
Throughout his college years, Matthew worked several jobs to help pay for his tuition but still managed to graduate in 1905. He received an acceptance to attend Boston University School of Law. While there he joined the Burlington Vermont baseball team. This move made him the only black in any white professional baseball league at the time.
Matthews joined the Bar association in 1908 and became one of the first African-American Assistant District Attorneys in the country. He worked as legal counsel to Marcus Garvey before getting active in Republican Party politics and helping get Calvin Coolidge elected President in 1924. He died in 1928 while serving in Washington, D.C. as a U.S. Assistant Attorney General.