Hobart Taylor, Jr., attorney and civil servant, was born in Texarkana, Texas, in 1920 to Hobart Taylor, Sr., and wife Charlotte Taylor. His father, businessman and civil rights activist Hobart Taylor, Sr., was the son of former slave and real estate owner Jack Taylor of Wharton.
Hobart Taylor, Jr., grew up in privileged settings in Texas and Atlanta, where his father worked in the insurance business before forming a profitable taxicab company, the H&T Taxi Co.. By 1930 the family relocated to Houston—and bought a home on Live Oak and Holman streets in the Third Ward. Like other upper-class African-American children, Taylor was sheltered to an extent from racial discrimination. After graduating from Jack Yates High School, he entered Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in 1937. He then received his master’s degree from Howard University in 1939 before going on to the University of Michigan Law School, where he graduated with his LLB and JD degrees in 1943. He also became the first black editor for the Michigan Law Review.
Admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1944, he worked as an aide to Raymond W. Starr, the chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for the next year. He spent a few years in private practice before working briefly as a Wayne County prosecutor in the city of Detroit. He eventually left the prosecutor’s office in 1950. While in Detroit, Taylor and his family lived in the upscale Boston-Edison neighborhood on the city’s Westside. Active in the city’s civic affairs, he remained in the area through the early 1960s.
Hobart Taylor, Sr., one of the most influential men in Houston, contributed to Lyndon B. Johnson’s United States Senate race in 1948. A friendship developed between Taylor and Johnson. In 1960 the Taylors contributed money to Johnson’s 1960 presidential race. President John F. Kennedy appointed Hobart Taylor, Jr., to serve in his administration as a special counsel to the newly-formed Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC became a government agency that investigated acts of racism or other acts of discrimination, deemed illegal as a general practice in the United States workforce. To facilitate the ultimate departure of discriminatory practices among employees, President Kennedy and special counsel Taylor devised a program that would make discrimination difficult to execute. Under a new plan Taylor named “Affirmative Action,” the government would support the use of measures designed to put an end to racial discrimination as well as other forms of prejudice based on gender bias, color, and national origin. Johnson went further by signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which explicitly stated the federal government would “prevent” acts of bias against groups. The Johnson Administration also created Executive Order 11246—Affirmative Action as a mandate that formulated nondiscriminatory policies designed to prevent practices of exclusion in the workplace.
Johnson retained Taylor as director of the Export-Import World Bank. The bank, created during Franklin Roosevelt’s first administration in 1934, provided government-backed credit, financing, and insurance coverage for United States exports. In this capacity, the Texas native kept up with the various trade commodities leaving the U.S. for countries abroad, ensuring the safe delivery, financing, and insuring of these goods. Following his service to the Johnson Administration, he sat on a number of corporate boards during the 1970s.
Taylor married twice. He first married Lynette Robins with whom he had two sons, Albert and Hobart III. He later married Carol Angermeir. Hobart Taylor, Jr., died in 1981 at the age of sixty after he lost his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).