Congressman Hilliard, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, was elected in 1992 as Alabama’s first African-American Member of Congress since Reconstruction.
As a life-long resident of Alabama – the birthplace of the modern civil rights movement – he has seen first-hand the difference one person can make to effectuate positive change. As a full-time civil rights activist, he has marched, protested and stood up for equal justice all his life. He has a longstanding commitment to uplifting the poor, the disenfranchised, and the everyday laborer. Congressman Hilliard understands that the measure of a civilized society is gauged by the treatment of those less fortunate.
Presently, Congressman Hilliard serves on two major committees in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Committee on International Relations and a member of the Committee on Agriculture. He also is the Ranking member on the International Relations Subcommittee on Europe. The Congressman is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a co-chair of the House and Senate ad hoc Telehealth Committee, a member of the Steering Committee of the Rural Health Care Coalition a member of the Progressive Caucus and the Home Health Task Force of the Rural Health Care Coalition.
During his tenure in the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Hilliard has aggressively represented the interests of his district. Making it a point to return to the district as often as possible, he pays close personal attention to the needs and views of his constituents. He has sponsored or supported legislation making it easier for families to save and send their children to college, encouraged economic development, promoted and preserved agricultural interests, enhanced small business growth, and addressed a myriad of needs faced by the poor. Additionally, he has sponsors a multi-faceted internship program, which offers unique learning opportunities for the young men and women of the Seventh Congressional District.
Prior to his election to the 103rd Congress, Congressman Hilliard served six years in the Alabama House of Representatives. During his tenure in the State House, he was elected the first Chairman of the Alabama Black Legislative Caucus in 1975. In 1980, Congressman Hilliard was elected to the Alabama State Senate. He subsequently was re-elected to the Alabama State Senate in 1982, 1983, 1986, and 1990. Congressman Hilliard served with distinction as Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Utility Committee. Also, from 1982-1986, he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1986 and 1990, he was the Chairman of the Jefferson County Senate Delegation.
A graduate of Morehouse College, the Atlanta University School of Business and Howard University School of Law, Congressman Hilliard believes education is the key to unlocking the door of opportunity. He is a life-member of the following organizations: NAACP, National Bar Association, Morehouse College Alumni Association and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Also, he is the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding service for civic, legislative, leadership, and humanitarian efforts.
Congressman Hilliard is married to Mary Franklin Hilliard, a teacher and public school administrator by profession. He is the father to two children, both attorneys, Alesia L. Hilliard Smith and Earl, Jr. He is also a grandfather.