Alabama Academy of Honor


John H. Buchanan, Jr.

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in October 2010.



John H. Buchanan, Jr., former United States congressman, represented Alabama’s sixth congressional district from 1964 to 1981. During his distinguished career, Buchanan was a strong advocate for civil rights and women’s rights. Since leaving Congress, he has continued his efforts in support of civil liberties and civic education.

Born in Paris, Tennessee, on March 19, 1928, Buchanan grew up in Birmingham. His education included a B.A. from Howard College, now Samford University; graduate work at the University of Virginia; and a Th.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1957. His honorary degrees include an LL.D. from Samford University. An ordained Baptist minister, he served churches in Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.

Buchanan was elected to his first term in Congress in 1964. As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, he helped lead the fight for enactment of Title IX, guaranteeing equality for women in the programs of American colleges and universities. He was ranking Republican on the Equal Rights Subcommittee and was the first Alabama congressman to hire staff and nominate to the military academies on a bi-racial basis. For fourteen years, he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he championed the rights of people behind the Iron Curtain, especially Jewish and Christian dissidents, as well as the black majority in South Africa. As ranking minority member of the House Committee’s Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Operations, he was one of the principal authors of the Foreign Service Act of 1980. In that year, he received the Honor Award, Women’s Action Organization (State Department, ICA, AID) “for commitment to the advancement of women in the Foreign Service community.” He served in the U.S. Delegation to the 28th U.N. General Assembly and the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission (1978-1980), and was ranking Republican on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

After leaving Congress, Buchanan was chairman and national spokesperson for the civil liberties organization, People For the American Way. He chaired the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education and worked on behalf of civic education with the National Educational Goals 2000 Panel. While serving at the Kettering Foundation, he participated in U.S. exchanges with the Soviet Union and China. He founded the Congressional Sunbelt Caucus, representing the interests of southern and southwestern states. In 2004, he traveled the country participating in hearings with the National Task Force on Public Education, and in 2006, with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, working for the extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He currently serves on the Common Cause President’s Council and the National Council of the U.S. United Nations Association.

Buchanan’s numerous awards have included the Common Cause Public Service Achievement Award, the National Council of Jewish Women Hannah G. Solomon Award, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award, the Alabama Education Association’s Friend of Education Award, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ Distinguished Service Award.

Buchanan is married to the former Betty Moore of Birmingham. They have two daughters, Liz and Lynn, and three granddaughters, Victoria, Molly, and Alexine.