CHICAGO — A ceremony was held Thursday to honor Abraham Bolden, the first Black American appointed to the Secret Service who was pardoned by President Joe Biden in April.
Bolden broke down racial barriers as a member of President John Kennedy’s security detail. His honesty while working in that position ended up costing him.
“As we know being the first is never easy. Being the first requires being held to a higher standard, but also it requires courage. That is exactly what Mr. Bolden demonstrated when he verbalized his concerns to his superiors regarding the discrimination and segregation of Black agents experience while working with the southern United States. However his honesty cost him dearly,” 4th District Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore said.
When Bolden attempted to report the racism and misconduct in the service, there was retaliation, leading to Bolden being falsely charged and imprisoned.
“He never gave up the fight to clear his name. He’s always maintained that during his time the Secret Service was hostile to President Kennedy because of his support for civil rights and by proxy resentful of Agent Bolden who had integrated the Secret Service,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.
President Biden pardoned Bolden in April, permanently clearing his name and cementing his legacy as a trail blazer in the field.