L. DOUGLAS WILDER was born in Richmond, Virginia, and earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Virginia Union University in 1951. He earned his law degree in 1959 from Howard University School of Law. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea 1952-1953 and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in ground combat. He was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1969 where he served until his election as lieutenant governor in 1985. He was elected governor in 1989, and served from 1990-1994. Wilder was the first black American to be elected a United States governor. A fiscally conservative Democrat, Wilder attracted national attention for his austere approach to Virginia's budget problems and for advocating drug testing of college students. In 1991 Wilder sought the Democratic presidential nomination, running as a centrist, but he failed to raise sufficient funds and withdrew from the race in January 1992. Barred by state law from seeking a second consecutive term as governor, Wilder left office in 1994. He became a professor at the Center for Public Policy of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995.

Sources:

Governors of Virginia

The Political Graveyard

AfricanAmericans.com