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Ebenezer Ayesu

lawyer, chief judge, and president of Ghana, was born at Dodowa in the Greater Accra region of the Gold Cost (now Ghana) on 26 June 1906. His father was William Martin Addo-Danquah of Akropong, Akuapem. His mother was Theodora Amuafi, also from Akropong, Akuapem. After receiving his elementary education at the Presbyterian primary and middle schools at Dodowa, he enrolled in Achimota College in 1929, from where he was awarded scholarship to study mathematics, philosophy, and politics at Saint Peter’s College, Oxford University. Akuffo-Addo was one of the first students at Saint Peter’s College, matriculating in 1930, a year after the college was established. He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was later made an honorary fellow of the college, and in 1971 he was made a doctor of civil law at Oxford University.

In 1940 Akuffo Addo ...

Article

André Willis

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923, a time when very few African Americans gained admittance to Ivy League schools. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Between 1933 and 1935 Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Although the prevailing racial climate made it difficult for him to break into national politics, Alexander was appointed honorary consul to the Republic of Haiti in 1938. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Ethiopia in 1951, but although he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958 Alexander committed himself to ...

Article

Matthew LeRiche

Sudanese judge and politician, was born in Bor, then a district of Upper Nile Province. Alier emerged as a prominent member of the Bor Dinka tribe and the southern Sudanese community more generally. He attended the renowned Rumbek Secondary School, which educated many southern Sudanese leaders. He also attended the Wad Saidna school in northern Sudan. His success in early education lead Alier to attend law school at the University of Khartoum and upon high achievement there was able to undertake and receive a Masters degree from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Yale University, in the United States. He was also a research fellow in Land Law in the School of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, from 1961 to 1962. In recognition for his role in government and achievements in academia the universities of Khartoum and Juba gave Alier an honorary doctor of laws.

After completing his ...

Article

Laurie Jacklin

was born in Preston, St. Mary Parish, Jamaica, on 13 February 1941, to Ivan Haye and Gladys Hyatt. Pamela remained in Jamaica with her grandmother during the 1950s when her parents followed the path of many British-Caribbean subjects and migrated to England hoping to improve their lives. In London, Gladys worked in the printing industry and Ivan was employed at the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (Ministry of Defence). After completing school at West Indies College, Pamela joined her parents in 1958 and studied biochemistry in London.

A vacation in 1966 altered the course of Appelt s life as she decided to remain in Montreal Quebec just shortly after the Canadian government ended its White Canada immigration policy which had traditionally excluded most Caribbean born people She accepted a position in medical biochemistry research at McGill University in Montreal and completed a master s degree in public policy at ...

Article

Edward Telles

who became the president of the Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal or STF) from 2012 to 2014, was born Joaquim Benedito Barbosa Gomes to Joaquim Barbosa Gomes and Benedita da Silva Gomes, a bricklayer and a housewife, respectively, in Paracatu, Minas Gerais, on 7 October 1954, the first of eight children.

At 16, he left for Brasilia to enter secondary schooling, where he began to work as a graphics typesetter—first at Brasilia’s pioneer newspapers Correio Braziliense and Jornal de Brasília and then in the Brazilian Senate. Throughout his elementary and secondary education, he attended public schools. Having developed an early interest in foreign languages, people, and cultures, Barbosa would eventually live in several countries and become fluent in five languages (Portuguese, French, German, English, and Spanish).

Barbosa began law school at the University of Brasilia in 1975 While pursuing his legal studies he worked at the ...

Article

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Jane Bolin was the daughter of Gaius C. and Matilda Bolin. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts and was the first black American woman to graduate from Yale Law School in Connecticut. She was also the first black woman admitted to the New York City Association of the Bar. Bolin was appointed a United States judge in 1939.

Bolin battled racial discrimination in schools and retired in 1978 after effecting many changes in the family court system of New York. In 1979 Bolin was appointed a member of the Regents Review Committee for the New York State Board of Regents where she reviewed disciplinary cases. She has served on the boards of many agencies including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP and the Child Welfare League and has received honorary degrees from institutions such as Williams College ...

Article

Wendy Scott

Upon her appointment to the Domestic Relations Court (later the Family Court) of the City of New York in 1939, Jane Matilda Bolin became the first black woman judge in U.S. history. When asked why he selected the thirty-one-year-old Bolin, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia explained that she had common sense, patience, courtesy, and a broad sympathy for human suffering. Bolin was also the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, the first black assistant corporation counsel for the city of New York, and the first black woman admitted to membership in the New York City bar association.

Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Gaius C. Bolin, a lawyer; and Mathilda Ingram Bolin, a white Englishwoman. She received her elementary and secondary education in the public school system and graduated from Wellesley College in 1928 While at Wellesley she ...

Article

Arturo Victoriano

was born on 5 April 1961 in Río San Juan, Dominican Republic. She graduated cum laude in 1988 with a doctorate in law from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), after which she pursued post-graduate studies in political science at UASD (its Santiago campus), graduating with a Post-Grado en Ciencias Políticas (equivalent to a one-year master’s degree) in 1994. She became a specialist in alternative conflict resolution. She is a former practicing attorney with an extended practice in the firms of Bonilla-Hernández (1989–1990), Centro Bonilla-Estrella (1990–1995), and Oficina Jurídica Díaz-Bonilla (1992–2002), serving various areas of the law, as is customary in the Dominican Republic. A longstanding member of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), she entered politics, becoming elected to the lower house of Congress (Chamber of Deputies) for the province of Santiago during the periods 1994–1998, 1998–2002 and ...

Article

Graeme Reid

South African human rights lawyer, Rhodes Scholar, and a Justice of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on 15 February 1953, to Kenneth Hughson Cameron, an electrician, and Salome Schoeman Cameron. He completed his schooling at Pretoria Boys’ High School and obtained a BA Law and an Honors degree in Latin, both cum laude, at Stellenbosch University. He lectured in Latin and Classical Studies before studying at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. At Oxford he obtained a BA in Jurisprudence and the Bachelor of Civil Law, earning first-class honors and the top law prizes. Cameron received his LLB from the University of South Africa, and won the medal for the best law graduate.

Cameron practiced at the Johannesburg Bar from 1983 to 1994. From 1986 he was a human rights lawyer based at the University of the Witwatersrand s Centre ...

Article

Boyd Childress

lawyer, jurist, and ardent civil rights activist who has worked for equal rights since high school. Carter was born in Careyville, Florida, but his family moved to Newark, New Jersey, soon after his birth. When Carter was one year old, his father died, leaving his mother (who worked as a domestic) to raise eight children. As a senior at East Orange High School, Carter successfully ended segregation of the school's swimming pool (a hollow victory as the school closed the pool rather than integrate). Although encounters with racism did not discourage the youthful Carter, he admitted that he was delusional to think that race was irrelevant. Graduating from historically black Lincoln University in 1937 and Howard Law School in 1940, Carter earned a master's degree in law from Columbia (1941). At Howard, Carter met Dean William Hastie who was a mentor to Carter later ...

Article

John R. Howard

attorney and federal judge, was born in Careyville, Florida, the youngest of eight children of Robert Carter and Annie Martin. Shortly after his birth, Robert's family joined tens of thousands of blacks migrating from the rural South to the big cities of the North, seeking a better life. Within months of settling in Newark, New Jersey, his father died, leaving his mother a widow at age thirty-nine and the sole support of a large family. Working as a domestic by day and taking in laundry at night, she managed to keep the family together.

Carter excelled as a student, encouraged by his mother, who hoped he would train to be a minister. In his teen years she moved the family to East Orange, New Jersey, to escape the increasing decay and desperation of Newark during the Great Depression. Graduating from East Orange High School in 1933 he entered ...

Article

Joseph Wilson

a leading African American attorney, judge, and congressman from Detroit, Michigan. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, George Crockett graduated from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan Law School. Subsequently he started a law practice and later was a cofounder of the National Lawyers Guild, the nation's first racially integrated lawyers' organization which he then served as vice president. In 1939, Crockett became the first African American attorney in the United States Department of Labor and, later, in the Federal Employment Practices Commission. In 1943, he directed the United Auto Workers' Fair Practices Commission, which sought to prevent white workers from engaging in “hate” strikes designed to bar black workers from working in auto plants.

In 1946 in Detroit, he helped form the country's first integrated law firm (Goodman, Eden, Crockett and Robb) and served as a partner until 1966. In 1949 Crockett was sentenced ...

Article

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, George William Crockett, Jr. graduated with a B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1931 and a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. After several years in private practice, in 1939 he became the first African American lawyer at the U.S. Department of Labor. Beginning in 1943 Crockett served as a hearing examiner for the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), a federal agency that attempted to secure more jobs for African Americans in wartime industries. His work with the FEPC led to a position as head of the United Auto Worker's Fair Practices Committee, which sought to eliminate racism in factories.

Throughout his long career Crockett acted according to his often-unpopular beliefs, which led to occasional controversy. In 1949, while once again in private practice (as a founding partner in the first law firm with an integrated partnership in Detroit Michigan ...

Article

Erin L. Thompson

jurist and activist. Hubert Thomas Delany was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father, Henry B. Delany, was a former slave and a bishop of the Episcopal Church; his mother, Nanny J. Delany, was a teacher. While attending the City College of New York (graduated 1923) and New York University School of Law (graduated 1926), Delany worked at tobacco farms in Connecticut and taught in Harlem elementary schools. His first wife, Clarissa Scott Delany, from Tuskegee, Alabama, was a poet and a social worker with the National Urban League and Woman's City Club of New York; she died in 1927.

In 1929 Delany unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Manhattan's Twenty-first District, which included much of Harlem and Washington Heights. His early career was not otherwise political, concentrating mostly on private practice. Among his most well-known clients was the singer Marian Anderson with ...

Article

jurist and judge of the International Criminal Court, was born in Mali. She attended primary and secondary school in Mali, and received her undergraduate degree in human rights from the University of Dakar in 1971. Diarra returned home to Mali in order to begin a graduate program in law from the École Nationale d’Administration in the Malian capital of Bamako. Diarra then went to France, where she received a law degree from the École Nationale de la Magistrature in Paris. Despite the despotic regime of Moussa Traoré, Diarra made a legal career of defending victims of political violence. In the early 1990s she was one of the leading members of the grassroots movement that challenged the Traoré dictatorship. Diarra served as a legal adviser at the Sovereign National Convention in 1991 where she helped draft a new constitution. She also served in the 1990s as the vice ...

Article

Mary S. Lederer and Elizabeth Macharia-Mokobi

Botswana lawyer, judge, and women’s and human rights activist, was born on 23 April 1959, in Mochudi in the Kgatleng District of Botswana, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the capital Gaborone, to Phiri and Malefshane. One of six children, Dow received her early education in Mochudi and attended law school at the University of Botswana and Swaziland and later at Edinburgh University, qualifying as an attorney in 1983. She immediately took employment as a criminal prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Chambers in Gaborone. On 7 March 1984, she married Peter Nathan Dow, an American national. They set up home in Mochudi with her daughter Cheshe Maitumelo (born in 1979) and welcomed two more children: a son, Tumisang Tad, in 1985 and another daughter, Natasha Selemo, two years later.

In 1986 Dow left the employ of the government and entered into private practice as a partner ...

Article

Erin L. Thompson

jurist and professor. Edwards was born in New York, the son of George H. Edwards, a member of the Michigan state house of representatives from 1955 to 1978, and Arline Ross Lyle, a social worker. Edwards graduated from Cornell University in 1962 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1965, then worked at a law firm in Chicago until 1970. He then returned to the University of Michigan Law School, teaching as a tenured professor from 1970 to 1975 and 1977 to 1980. Edwards also taught at Harvard Law School (1975–1977) and held visiting professorships at the law schools of Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown University. He also taught at the Harvard Institute for Educational Management between 1976 and 1982.

Edwards s academic specialty was labor law and he was appointed as arbitrator under a number ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

Beninese jurist, historian, international civil servant, human rights activist, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Benin, was born on 15 March 1934 in the town of Zinvié, not far from Abomey, the former royal capital of the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey. Because Glélé’s intellectual talents were recognized by his Roman Catholic primary school teachers, he was enabled to complete his secondary education at the Lycée van Vollenhoven in Dakar, Senegal, where he earned the lettres classiques baccalaureate in 1955. After a year of studying law at the newly founded University of Dakar, he entered the preparatory section of the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris in order to qualify, in 1958, for the diploma of civil administration, awarded by the National School for the Training of Overseas Administrators (the former École Coloniale). He then went on to earn the licence in law in 1960 ...

Article

William Henry Hastie's father, a pension clerk, and his mother, a teacher, taught him to oppose racial discrimination. The family moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hastie was born, to Washington, D.C., in 1916. Hastie was valedictorian at Dunbar High School, one of the leading African American secondary schools in the country. He was senior class president at Amherst College in 1925, and graduated as valedictorian again. After teaching for two years, he returned to school and earned a law degree from Harvard University in 1930.

Hastie practiced law in Washington with his father, fighting university segregation. At night, he taught at Howard University Law School. Among his students, many of whom played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, was Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American justice on the United States Supreme Court. From 1933 to 1937 Hastie was assistant ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

legal educator, civil rights advocate, judge, and governor. William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the only child of a middle-class, college-educated black couple, Roberta Childs and William Henry Hastie, who moved to Washington, D.C., to give their son a better education. There the young Hastie graduated from Dunbar High School in 1921 and entered Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he ran track and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in 1925.

Giving up opportunities to study at Oxford University or the University of Paris, Hastie instead taught for two years at the New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth. In 1927 he continued his education at Harvard Law School, studying under the future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter and earning his bachelor of laws (LLB) degree in 1930 Hastie moved to Washington D C and both worked ...