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The Honorable Earl Strayhorn

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Information about The Honorable Earl Strayhorn

Profile image of The Honorable Earl Strayhorn

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
County Circuit Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
How lucky I am to have existed and been allowed to be around for as long as I have.

Birthplace

Born:
4/24/1918
Birth Location:
Columbus, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
County Circuit Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
How lucky I am to have existed and been allowed to be around for as long as I have.

Birthplace

Born:
4/24/1918
Birth Location:
Columbus
See how The Honorable Earl Strayhorn is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Judge Earl Edward Strayhorn was born on April 24, 1918, in Columbus, Mississippi to Minnie Lee Orvis Strayhorn and Earl Edward Strayhorn, Sr. He graduated from Tilden Tech High School in Chicago in 1936. Strayhorn received an A.B. degree from the University of Illinois in 1941 and his J.D. degree from DePaul University Law School in 1948. He also served his country as an artillery officer as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

From 1949 until 1952, Strayhorn worked as a prosecuting assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois. From 1952 until 1970, he had his own practice while serving as Chicago civil service commissioner between 1959 and 1963. In 1970, he became a Cook County Circuit Court judge, serving for twenty-eight years in the administrative offices of the Illinois courts. Known for his independent thinking and his unique sense of justice, Strayhorn was well respected for his no-nonsense style in the courtroom. From 1995 until he retired in 1998, he headed the county court system’s largest section, the First Municipal Division.

Strayhorn taught law classes at numerous colleges and universities, including: Northwestern University School of Law, Harvard Law School, Emory University College of Law, the National College of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Cardozo School of Law and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. Strayhorn served as vice president of the Chicago Urban League from 1948 until 1960 and has been on the boards of many organizations. He was a member of the NAACP and was parliamentarian for Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. from 1985 to 1994.

Strayhorn was married to Lygia Eugenia and had two children, Donald and Earlene. He passed away on February 15, 2009 at the age of 90.

Strayhorn was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 14, 2003.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Earl Strayhorn interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn details finding lost family members
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn lists his immediate family and their dates and places of birth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn describes his parents' employment
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls migrating to Chicago
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn shares his childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn lists his elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn remembers growing up in Chicago
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the neighborhood gangs of his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn describes himself as a boy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details his adventures at the prom with Benny Goodman (pt 1)
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn continues with his high school prom adventure with Benny Goodman (pt 2)
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn remembers his favorite teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn remembers a racist high school instructor
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn describes his transition from an average high school student to a political science major
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn discusses his college experiences in segregated Champaign
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the 1936 Olympics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn describes being drafted into the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn remembers Pearl Harbor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn details his war experiences in Italy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the end of WWII
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn explains his decision to attend law school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn reflects on his years at DePaul
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls his first courtroom experience
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details his early years as an Illinois State's Attorney's
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn discusses racial discrimination and sentencing disparities in the criminal justice system
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn relates how he defeated top lawyers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn details his transition from public to private practice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the trial of boxer Joe Louis's manager, Julian Black
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn lists his acquaintances in the NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn discusses a statutory rape case
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn details his defense of seven civil rights activists
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn remembers confronting racism in office rental
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details how he became a judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn remembers his advocate, U.S. Congressman William Levi Dawson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn shares his recollections of Harold Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn recounts his career as a judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the case of Miguel Valdez, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the case of Miguel Valdez, part 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn relates the sotry of Miguel Valdez's sentencing and incarceration, part 3
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn expresses his feelings about the death penalty
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn discusses a death-penalty case
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn reflects on the difficulties of being a judge, and the possibility of mistakes
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn discusses Judge Vanessa Hopkins
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn explains how judges are judged
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn describes the job of overseeing judges
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn relates how he would improve the criminal justice system (part 1)
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn offers solutions for the criminal justice system (part 2)
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn shares his concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn ponders his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Photo - Earl E. Strayhorn
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Photo - Earl E. Strayhorn with Marshall Korshak, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1965