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The Honorable George N. Leighton

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Information about The Honorable George N. Leighton

Profile image of The Honorable George N. Leighton

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal District Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Filet Mignon
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
Praise The Lord.

Birthplace

Born:
10/22/1912
Birth Location:
New Bedford, Massachusetts

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal District Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Filet Mignon
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
Praise The Lord.

Birthplace

Born:
10/22/1912
Birth Location:
New Bedford
See how The Honorable George N. Leighton is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Judge George Leighton was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on October 22, 1912. His parents, Anna Silva Garcia and Antonio Neves Leitao, were from Cape Verde. Because of his family's need for money, Leighton was unable to attend high school. However, he spent his free time reading and won a $200 scholarship to college in an essay contest. Leighton gained conditional admittance to Howard University in 1936 and graduated magna cum laude four years later, going on to study at Harvard Law School.

Drafted into military service in 1940, Leighton became a Captain of Infantry before being relieved of active duty in 1945. He returned to his Harvard education, earned an L.L.B. in 1946, and passed the Illinois bar exam the following year. Leighton served as a member and chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the Chicago NAACP. Between 1947 and 1952, Leighton also served as president of the Third Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Appointed Assistant Attorney General of Illinois in 1949, Leighton served two years in this post. In 1951, he co-founded one of the largest predominately African American law firms in the country and the next year, he served as Chicago Branch NAACP president. Leighton was elected a Cook County Circuit Court judge in 1964 and began teaching at the John Marshall Law School the next year. In 1969, Leighton was assigned to sit as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Illinois' First District. After six years, President Gerald Ford nominated Leighton to serve as a U.S. District Court judge. He was confirmed February 2, 1976 and began serving office one month later.

Leighton retired from the U.S. District Court at the age of 75 but began serving of counsel to Earl L. Neal & Associates. Leighton has played a leadership role in governmental groups, serving as chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee for the First Appellate District of Illinois and chairman of the Illinois Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Leighton has also participated in civic groups, serving on the board of directors of the United Church of Christ and Grant Hospital. He and his late wife, Virginia Berry Quivers, have two adult daughters: Virginia Anne and Barbara Elaine.

Leighton passed away on June 6, 2018.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Leighton's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Leighton lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Leighton discusses his maternal family's Cape Verdean background, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses his maternal family's Cape Verdean background, pt.2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Leighton explains his father's influence on his educational aspirations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Leighton describes the Cape Verdean culture, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Leighton talks about his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Leighton talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Leighton explains the migration of Cape Verdeans to New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - George Leighton describes the Cape Verdean culture, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Leighton explains issues race of and ethnicity in Cape Verdean culture
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Leighton shares memories of his childhood family life in New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Leighton describes being admitted to Howard University without a high school degree
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his childhood ambitions to be a lawyer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes leaving school at age 16 to work on an oil tanker
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes wanting to attend Howard University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his experiences at Howard University, pt.1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Leighton recalls learning about African American history and culture at Howard University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Leighton describes being admitted to Harvard Law School.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Leighton reflects on his admission to Harvard Law School, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Leighton reflects on his admission to Harvard Law School, pt.2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes his family's response to his acceptance to Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Leighton reflects on leaving Harvard Law School for active duty during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School,pt.3
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.4
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Leighton talks about other African Americans in his class at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Leighton explains his decision to move to Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes his wife and her family background in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Leighton describes his early experiences in Chicago looking for work as a lawyer, pt.1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his early experiences in Chicago looking for work as a lawyer, pt.2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes life for African Americans in Chicago in the 1940s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes his connection to prominent national and Chicago-based African American lawyers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his experiences as a young African American lawyer in Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Leighton discusses cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court, pt.1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Leighton discusses cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court, pt.2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Leighton discusses a case he argued before the United States Supreme Court
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Leighton discusses his involvement in housing discrimination cases in Chicago, pt.1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Leighton provides some background on the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses the aftermath of the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case, pt.1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Leighton discusses the aftermath of the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case and experiences of African Americans in Chicago
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Leighton discusses the role of the NAACP lawyers during the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Leighton reflects on changes among African American lawyers through the years
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on lessons learned early in his career as a criminal defense attorney
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Leighton discusses the role of politics in his legal career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Leighton shares a story about James B. Parsons, the first African American United States District Judge
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Leighton explains how he became a circuit court judge
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Leighton shares the his career path after becoming a judge
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Leighton talks about the connection between Sam Giancana and John F. Kennedy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about notorious mob boss, Sam Giancana
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Leighton describes being a United States Federal District Court judge
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Leighton talks about an increase in women becoming federal judges
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Leighton describes his experiences as a federal judge
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Leighton shares disappointment about serving as a judge
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Leighton shares why he was an effective lawyer.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.3
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - George Leighton shares memorable cases over which he presided
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George Leighton discusses presiding over the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) federal case, pt.1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George Leighton discusses presiding over the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) federal case, pt.2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - George Leighton discusses the issue of the media in the courtroom
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about the O.J. Simpson case
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - George Leighton shares his thoughts Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pt.1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - George Leighton tlkas about the future of DNA testing
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his acquittal of a case of alleged assault of Chicago police officer against Jesse Rodriguez and Simon Suarez
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - George Leighton reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - George Leighton talks about his parents