Affiliated with the Republican Party, this African American political figure and attorney served from 1975 until 1977 as United States Secretary of Transportation. After ending his career in government, he became a partner with the O'Melveny & Myers law firm.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He went on to secure a legal clerk position with U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Herbert F. Goodrich.
While serving as a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Coleman helped write the brief for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.
His marriage to Lovida Mae Hardin resulted in three children, including an attorney son named William T. Coleman III.
In 1995, then-President Bill Clinton presented Coleman with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.