Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembering... Jane Bolin

As will happen when somebody is first at something, they soon find a lot of other firsts piled at their feet; at least that was the case with Jane Bolin...

PhotobucketAside from being fourth of her siblings - born on this day in 1908 - everything else Jane Bolin did was first: she was the first black woman to receive a law degree from Yale Law School (in 1931), the first to join the New York City Bar Association, and the first to join the city's law department. In 1939 she became the first black woman to serve as a judge in the United States when she was sworn in to the bench of the New York City Domestic Relations Court, having been appointed to the position at the age of just 31 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

Her position was renewed three times, and when she was finally forced to retire at the age of 70 she'd served the families of New York for 40 years. In that time she strove to racially integrate city services. She also served on the boards of the NAACP and the National Urban League, and was awarded honorary degrees from Tuskeegee Institute, Williams College, Hampton University, Western College for Women and Morgan State University.

Bolin died in January 2007 at the age of 98, and was survived by her son, Yorke B. Mizelle.
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