Andrew Hilyer (1858-1925) was a leader in the drive to advance the economic, cultural, political, and educational development of Washington's African American community.

Hilyer was one of the founders of the Union League of the District of Columbia, established in 1892 to combat racism through a public information campaign and to promote the "moral, material, and financial interests" of African Americans. As part of this effort, Hilyer edited the Union League Directory — a catalogue of black businesses, organizations, and churches that includes a biographical directory of leaders. The Directory was published in 1892, 1894, and 1901. He also published A Historical, Biographical and Statistical Study of Colored Washington in 1901.

Hilyer was born enslaved in Georgia, and grew up in Nebraska and Minnesota. In 1882 he graduated from the University of Minnesota, then moved to Washington. By 1895 he had received two law degrees from Howard University. He worked as a clerk in the Treasury Department. He also became a successful real estate investor and inventor, receiving patents for home heating devices.

Hilyer worked to promote liberal education in addition to industrial education. He was particularly active in stimulating black business development while at the same time urging African Americans to seek jobs within white businesses and to patronize those businesses that hired them. He encouraged African Americans who worked in white businesses to learn from the experience and then start their own enterprises. Howard University's Downing Hall stands where Hilyer's house once stood.


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