African Americans in Consumer Product Safety: Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong

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The breadth of Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong’s accomplishments exemplified her ability to break down racial and gender barriers. In 1970, she became the first African American policewoman, and one of only seven policewomen in the Oakland, California police department. Three years later, she advocated for and was instrumental in the creation of equal hiring practices for women in the City of Oakland Police Department.

From 1983 to 1986, Armstrong held a number of positions at CPSC, including Commissioner and Vice-Chairman. Armstrong’s intellect, drive and attitude made her a change agent during her short time on the Commission. Her focus was on federal policy over consumer products, as well as the relationship between federal policymakers and state and local officials and standards development organizations.

“My sincere hope is that I can help foster a greater cooperative working relationship between the CPSC and the numerous state and local agencies…secondly, I would hope to foster and further encourage the voluntary standard process in a joint and non-adversarial way…” -November 21, 1983

On June 21, 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Armstrong to the United States District Court. With her appointment, she became the first African American woman to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Armstrong is remembered by former Commission members as having a spirit of service and using her legal, law enforcement and product safety experiences to fight for equality.

Thank you, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong.

This is the fifth of seven profiles of African Americans who made significant contributions to product safety in the United States.

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