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not as directly involved in the political
apparatus as was J. Raymond Jones. Thomas Benjamin Dyett was a lawyer. I think he was one
of the first blacks in the city of New York to be appointed to the Civil Service
Commission, many many years ago -- I think in the 1930's. A man who was highly respected
by his colleagues in the legal profession, white and black. He seemed to me to be a model
of integrity and balance and clarity; not only in his professional and public life, but
personally he was a gentleman. I always thought of Ben Dyett as a sort of a prince.
I didn't get to know him very well until, I guess, in the sixties, early sixties or late
fifties. And I don't know quite how I got to know Ben. I don't remember anyone introducing
us. We just sort of introduced ourselves. He was about twenty years older than I, I guess.
Idon't know -- it's easy to look up and get his biography.
This was another one of the kind of personal, close relationships that just developed,
and I suspect it developed out of mutual respect and admiration. I found out a lot about
him. He was from one of the islands, I think St. Kitts, same island that my grandfather,
my father-in-law, came from.
He was self-educated. Well, no; he went to Howard University, undergraduate school,
early, and I think to Howard University Law School, I'm not sure.
He had a firm, and this firm had, as one of its quiet goals, the training of young black
lawyers. Ben Dyett would select young men who seemed to him to have had potential in the
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