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The Honorable Richard Mays, Sr.

Lawyer and judge Richard Mays, Sr. was born on August 5, 1943 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Dorothy Mae Greenlee and Barnett G. Mays, a restaurant owner and real estate developer. Mays graduated from Horace Mann High School in 1961, and earned his B.A. degree in political science and business administration from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Mays then received his LL.B. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville in 1968, where he was the only African American in his graduating class.

In 1968, Mays worked as a trial attorney in the organized crime division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. He soon returned to Little Rock to work as a deputy prosecutor for the sixth judicial district in Pulaski County, making him the first full time African American prosecutor in the district’s history. In 1971, he joined the law firm of Walker, Kaplan, and Lavey, the first racially integrated law firm in Arkansas. From 1973 to 1977, Mays also served in the Arkansas General Assembly. He was among the first group of African Americans to serve in the Arkansas General Assembly in the twentieth century.In 1977, he co-founded the law offices of Mays, Byrd & Associates. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton appointed Mays to the Arkansas Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1980, and that same year, he became an adjunct law professor at the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. From 1992 to 1996, Mays was the national co-chairman of the Clinton-Gore Presidential Inauguration Committee, raising over $1 million as a fundraiser. In 1993, Mays became the senior vice president of Cassidy & Associates. Mays also served as a consultant at CMS Energy and facilitated a contract with Ghana to develop a power plant. From 2005 to 2015, he served as vice chairman and chairman of the Arkansas Claims Commission. In 2013, Mays became the chairman of the board of directors of Soul of the South, a television network focused on African Americans and Southern culture.

Mays served on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, The Arkansas Ethics Commission, and the Arkansas Banking Board. He also served on the U.S. South African Business Development Committee, and on the board of directors of the American Judicature Society. Mays was honored by the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail in 2015, and inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mays is married to Supha Xayprasith-Mays, and has four children, Richard Jr. and Tiffany, who are also practicing attorneys in the Little Rock area as well as Dr. Kimberly Smith, an orthodonist in Chicago, and Dr. Latisse Stovall, an emergency room physician in New Jersey.

Judge Richard Mays, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 13, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.044

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/13/2018

Last Name

Mays

Maker Category
Schools

Bush Elementary School

Dunbar Magnet Middle School

Horace Mann High School

University of Arkansas Law School

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

MAY09

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Man, It’s Tough Out Here.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

8/5/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Favorite Food

Spaghetti And Meatballs

Short Description

Lawyer and judge Richard Mays, Sr. (1943 - ) served as an Arkansas Supreme Court Judge in 1980, a deputy prosecutor for the sixth judicial district in Pulaski County. He was also a founding partner of Mays, Byrd & Associates in Little Rock.

Employment

Mays, Byrd and Associates

Arkansas Claims Committee

Cassidy and Associates

Arkansas Supreme Court

Bowen School of Law

Arkansas General Assembly

Walker, Kaplan and Mays

U.S. Department of Justice

LR Prosecuting Attorney

Favorite Color

Green

The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown

Ohio State Justice Yvette McGee Brown was born in Columbus Ohio to Sylvia Kendrick on July 1, 1960. After graduating from Columbus, Ohio’s Mifflin High School, McGee Brown attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She graduated with her B.S. degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1982. Three years later, McGee Brown graduated from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law with her J.D. degree in law. In 1992, McGee Brown was elected to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile division. As lead Juvenile Court Judge, she led the creation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, a truancy and educational neglect intervention program. After nine years on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, she retired from the bench to create the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a multi-disciplinary child abuse and family violence program. In 2008, McGee Brown was also elected to the Ohio Elections Commission. After serving as founding president for the Center for Child and Family Advocacy, McGee Brown became a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio, tabbed by then Governor Ted Strickland in 2010. Strickland appointed her to the Ohio Supreme Court after losing his gubernatorial bid. McGee Brown became the first African American woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

An active community and corporate leader, Justice McGee Brown has served on the boards of Ohio University, The Ohio State University Medical Center, the National Council of the OSU Moritz College of Law, M/I Homes Inc. and Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio. She is the former chair of the United Way of Central Ohio, The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the YWCA Columbus Board of Directors. In 2008, Justice McGee Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Among her many honors, she has received the Champion of Children Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and several honors from Ohio University and The Ohio State University.

Justice McGee Brown is married to Tony Brown. They have three children and one grandson.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/6/2012

Last Name

McGee Brown

Maker Category
Schools

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Ohio University

Mifflin High School

Mifflin Middle School

Fairwood Alternative Elementary School

South Mifflin Elementary School

First Name

Yvette

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

MCG02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

It Doesn't Matter Where You Started In Life; It Matters Where You End.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

7/1/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown (1960 - ) was the first African American woman to serve on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Ohio. She also founded the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Columbus Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Employment

Supreme Court of Ohio

Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division

Ohio Attorney General's Office

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's experiences as a single mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her half-sister

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Browns talks about her mother's marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her mother's diagnosis with Guillain-Barre syndrome

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers visiting her maternal grandparents' home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Mifflin High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls the political climate of the late 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers interviewing Judge Robert Morton Duncan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers studying journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mentors at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her experiences at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to attend The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers joining the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Yvette McGee Brown talks about Judge Lillian W. Burke

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her career at the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her decision to pursue a county judgeship

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her election as a judge in Franklin County, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about the juvenile court system

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Student Mediation and Assistance to Reduce Truancy program

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Family Drug Court at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her early judicial career

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers serving on the Ohio Elections Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to become Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's running mate

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Governor Ted Strickland's reelection campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her appointment to the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her speaking engagements

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her casework on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio
Transcript
What did the court order the--$$The department [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] to do?$$Yeah (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, the department at that time was deemed to be discriminatory from race and sex. And the court, the federal court [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio] had ordered the Ohio Penitentiary closed. The Ohio Penitentiary used to sit in what is now called the Arena District in Columbus [Ohio]. It was this huge prison that had been built in the 1800s. And the federal district--the federal courts had declared that it was cruel and unusual to have inmates inhabit that facility. So, it had to be closed and, ultimately, it was torn down. At the time, I came to the department we had been accused of race discrimination for not promoting African Americans, and not just in employment, but in how we dealt with inmates. We had a caste system inside the prison department where white inmates got cells, and black inmates got dormitories. And so, part of my responsibility was to help develop and write policies, and then train the wardens and the staff on how this was going to happen. It was very interesting to me because I would meet with the wardens, and they were very opposed to housing black and white inmates together. They were like, "You don't understand, they will not live together." And I looked at them and I said, "Oh, we don't let inmates choose any part of their existence. We don't let them choose what they're going to wear, what they're going to eat, when they go to the bathroom, what time they get up, and suddenly, we're going to let them choose who they live with? This is prison. These are your issues. We're going to assign cells based on security levels, and not based on race." But, oh, my gosh, it was so hard. And then, the other case we had was a serious case of sex discrimination. They would not allow women to work as correctional officers in maximum security prisons because, apparently, women are so weak, they would have sex with the inmates. And a woman couldn't get promoted to be a warden if she didn't have maximum security experience. So, the, the duplicity of their argument, though, is that, at the same time, they were prosecuting and--or, excuse me, defending a case as to why women couldn't work in maximum security prisons, we had men working in the female prison. And we had female inmates actually getting pregnant. And nobody was saying that men couldn't work in Marysville [Ohio Reformatory for Women, Marysville, Ohio] so, of course, we lost that case. And I can remember sitting with this old warden. His name is Arnold Jago [ph.]. And Arnold Jago, he used to call me Gal, 'cause Arnold was sixty-five years old. And he looks like what you would think a warden would look like, and he would say to me, "Gal, we are not letting women into this prison." And I said, "Warden, yes, you are. Women are going to work in this prison. That is what the federal court has ordered." And I had his supervisor with me who said to him, "Arnold, either women start working in this prison, or you're not going to be the warden anymore." So, it was a fascinating practice for somebody who was only twenty-seven years old.$$Yeah, it does. It sounds like a fascinating--Ohio State Pen, as you described it, was used as a model for a draconian prison in 'The Shawshank Redemption' (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) It was, that was Mansfield.$$Oh, Mansfield?$$The Mansfield Correctional [Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio], yeah, 'cause that one is Mansfield, and I've been there several times. It, it was the only prison in the country that was built six tiers high, solid concrete. It was so noisy, like you could hear yourself as you would walk through. You hear every step you take, and the noise was deafening. Oh, my god, if they even started talking, they, and because they were stacked straight on top of each other, you have somebody on tier six yelling down to somebody on tier four, you would lose your mind. I don't know how people didn't go crazy in there. It was the loudest, most difficult prison to operate.$$Okay.$$And that was where 'Shawshank' was filmed.$$Okay. And I always thought it was Ohio Pen--$$Yeah, the Ohio Pen was, I think, gone or, or pretty decrepit by that time.$$I think they shot something before they knocked it down (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, they probably--oh, 'Cool Hand Luke' maybe? Yeah, they did do, they did several movies at the Ohio Pen because to see it, you're right. It was pretty draconian looking, yeah. And then, there was that infamous fire there where several inmates died and, yeah, it was a bad place.$$Okay. Okay. So, you were trying to implement the federal consent, consent decree, and--$$We had several, yeah. We were being sued all the time (laughter).$What happened when you left the court [Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch]? (Unclear).$$Well, I left the court to go over to Nationwide Children's Hospital [Columbus Children's Hospital; Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio] because I was in the middle of my second term. The second time I ran, they did not run anybody against me, so people were shocked that I was stepping down. But I'd al- I've always been one of those people guided by, where can I make the biggest difference? And, quite honestly, I was just getting burned out on the court. It was, it, the depravity that I was seeing every day, it just, I wasn't able to leave it at the office. And I'd always promised myself that when I reached the point where I couldn't see the humanity in the person across the bench from me, it was time for me to go. My youngest [David Brown] was four, my middle daughter [Laura Brown] was fourteen. It was time for me to go. And I started having quiet conversations with people, imagining I would just transition to a law firm. And Nationwide Children's, one of my friends was on the board and Nationwide Children's asked me to come and talk to them. And they wanted to create a one stop child abuse center because they had children who were sexually abused, spending hours in the emergency room, sometimes eight, ten, twelve hours waiting on detectives to get there, waiting on children's services to get there. So, they basically said, "This is kind of what we're thinking, but we'd like you with your experience to come in and design it." And so, I literally got the opportunity to plan, program, and build a center from the ground up. They had originally told me I had $3 million. I, I ultimately got $10 million, and we built a forty-two thousand square foot facility that, now in Franklin County [Ohio], we've been open now for, since 2005 for seven years. So, we have literally changed the paradigm on how you treat abused children. What we did is we moved all of the systems that deal with seriously abused children into one location. This beautiful building looks like you're walking into somebody's living room. It doesn't look like a hospital. It doesn't look institutional. We moved our five child abuse physicians, nurse practitioners, eight trauma treatment therapists, seventeen detectives from our special victims bureau at the Columbus police department [Columbus Division of Police], ten children services investigators, two Franklin County prosecutors, a domestic violence therapist, a child psychiatrist, and the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio] all in one location, all working together. It took us two years just to get the memorandums of understanding completed. But what--it's amazing what happens when you take six organizations that are used to pointing the finger at each other, which is what they used to do when I was on the bench; the police would blame children's services. Children's services would blame the prosecutor as to why nothing happened. But now, instead of being this anonymous name on a phone message, it's the person you see in the parking lot. It's the person you get coffee with in the morning. So, the beauty of this is that when a child is raped, they come to the center, and everybody they need to see is at the center: the detective's there, the children's services worker is here, the physician is there. We immediately get them into trauma treatment with a therapist. And so, oftentimes, the police detective is able to go and interview the alleged perpetrator before the mom can get home and say, oh, my god, this is what they found. So, it's a wonderful system. It was the work of my life. It's what I thought I was going to end my career doing. And then, Governor Strickland [Ted Strickland] called in 2010 (laughter).$$Yeah. For the record, the name of the place is the Center for Child and Family Advocacy [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio]--$$At Nationwide Children's--$$--at Nationwide Children's Hospital.$$Yes.$$And this makes so much sense. Is this still going on?$$It is.$$And has it been replicated in others?$$Yeah, we, and we actually weren't the first people to come up with this concept. I mean, there are centers like this that exist. Chicago [Illinois] has one. I went to visit the Chicago one. It's twenty-seven thousand square feet. That's when I knew I had to make it bigger. And Chicago's is a house, it's really kind of whimsical. They have windows that are on the floor, and they have windows that go up outside down, so it's really entertaining for a child to look at. But one of the things I--when I met with the director there, and I asked her, I said, "What would you do if you were doing different--doing it today differently?" She said, "I'd build it bigger." Because what we, what we everybody underestimated, which we got the benefit of their experience, is that when you create a safe place for people to come, where they don't have to go down to the police station, where they don't have to into a hospital emergency room, it makes it easier for people to come forward. So, I went to San Diego [California], I went to Chicago, I sent a consultant to Denver [Colorado], I went to Cincinnati [Ohio]. I went to Houston [Texas]. Houston has a fifty-six thousand square foot facility, and they were adding on to it at the time I visited them in 2002. So, we didn't create the model. I'd like to say that ours is the most comprehensive model because we included domestic violence because what we found in interviewing our families is that 60 percent of our parents gave a current or prior history of domestic violence, so we believed in terms of healing the child, we had to heal the family.$$Okay.

The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin

Justice Cynthia Anita Ackron Baldwin was born on February 8, 1945, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. She attended Penn State University, where she received her B.A. degree in English and her M.A. degree in American Literature. After starting her career as an English teacher and assistant dean of student affairs at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus, she pursued her J.D. degree at Duquesne University. She then worked in 1983 as the attorney-in-charge in the Office of the Attorney General at the Bureau of Consumer Protection under LeRoy S. Zimmerman.

In 1989, Baldwin was elected to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, where she served for sixteen years. Baldwin was a gubernatorial employee to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in 1990 and traveled to Zimbabwe on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1994. She lectured at the University of Zimbabwe in Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence and helped research the constitutional issues that came before the Zimbabwe Supreme Court. In 1995, Baldwin was part of a team sponsored by the American Bar Association, the National Judicial Conference, and the D.C. Superior Court which conducted judicial education programs in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. She also traveled to mainland China to do judicial seminars with law professors, students and judges.

Baldwin became the first African American woman to sit on the State of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court when she was nominated by Governor Edward Rendell in 2005. Her term began in January, 2006, and she served on the high court for her two-year term, after which she transitioned to the law firm of Duane Morris, LLP. There, her focus is on appellate litigation and education issues. She is an active member of the Penn State Board of Trustees and is a member of many professional organizations including the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association. She is also the recipient of several awards, including the 2003 Espirit Children’s Service Award from the Mental Health Association of Allegheny County and the 2008 Greater Pittsburgh Area Athena Award for her success in the judiciary profession and international work.

Accession Number

A2008.106

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/13/2008

Last Name

Baldwin

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Pennsylvania State University

Duquesne University

First Name

Cynthia

Birth City, State, Country

McKeesport

HM ID

BAL03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Turks and Caicos Islands

Favorite Quote

Success Is Getting What You Want. Happiness Is Wanting What You Get, And Experience Is What You Get When You Don't Get What You Want.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

2/8/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Southern Food, Asian Food

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin (1945 - ) was the first African American woman to sit on the State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. She served the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for sixteen years, and has also taught law in China and several African countries.

Employment

Duane Morris

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

Fulbright

Office of the Attorney General at the Bureau of Consumer Protection

Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:9228,121:20113,237:29458,321:30290,329:32370,352:38826,432:41514,479:42438,491:44706,531:47142,571:47646,580:56697,630:57092,636:70443,874:70759,879:71154,884:73761,943:76131,997:79844,1062:80634,1073:81582,1089:81977,1097:89872,1132:91678,1161:108786,1348:109626,1359:115617,1437:117542,1475:119005,1517:119775,1540:120545,1551:124164,1613:125088,1626:125473,1632:126012,1641:127398,1662:131352,1678:131856,1688:132612,1698:133872,1728:137736,1793:138156,1799:138492,1804:158630,2038:159260,2053:159890,2064:165505,2113:166216,2122:176802,2318:177118,2323:181886,2361:182226,2367:182566,2373:182974,2380:183382,2392:185218,2432:186510,2465:200762,2613:201052,2620:201284,2625:201574,2631:202680,2640:207720,2725:208120,2731:208840,2742:210360,2765:210680,2770:213080,2810:214440,2831:216680,2866:223964,2899:224684,2911:225620,2930:235250,3049$0,0:20382,267:21708,281:27012,324:27420,332:27828,337:28338,344:36283,403:40078,459:40630,467:43866,482:47106,533:48240,550:51561,605:52209,613:54882,663:55287,669:56826,691:57474,699:64926,828:65574,836:65979,842:84162,974:90207,1078:91323,1093:92067,1101:94206,1119:96345,1144:97368,1152:103176,1184:104372,1199:105200,1211:105936,1219:110444,1267:112652,1303:121316,1365:124562,1417:125048,1426:125534,1433:134698,1565:142190,1620:142865,1630:144290,1687:147440,1732:147740,1737:148490,1748:148940,1756:152690,1828:153815,1849:154490,1868:157415,1936:158240,1948:159590,1966:161015,1987:161390,1993:173172,2122:175908,2192:176628,2204:177420,2218:177924,2227:178284,2233:179796,2269:180228,2277:183180,2343:183972,2359:186780,2421:199305,2558:199707,2570:200243,2577:200578,2583:201583,2605:203258,2636:205871,2699:206273,2706:207010,2721:207345,2727:210494,2804:211030,2812:211767,2826:233358,3097:233897,3105:234898,3121:235283,3127:257492,3388:258251,3406:259286,3426:261011,3468:261425,3476:263990,3485:264398,3492:265010,3502:270450,3604:279322,3736:279930,3745:283654,3838:283958,3843:284718,3855:285402,3867:290090,3888
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Cynthia Baldwin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin recalls her first visit to Augusta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her parent's neighborhood in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her father and paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her parents and how they met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin considers her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her neighborhood on Morgan Street in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her parents' contributions to their community in McKeesport

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her experience at Walnut Street Public School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her family's Methodist and Baptist backgrounds and interest in literature

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about the McKeesport public school system in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about being excluded from the kindergarten spelling bee as an African American student

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about segregated public housing in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her experience at McKeesport High School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her experience at McKeesport High School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her experience at McKeesport High School, pt. 3

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes the presence of a few black college graduates in McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin remembers Jet magazine's cover story of Emmett Till's murder

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about African American literature and well-known African Americans who visited McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes McKeesport, Pennsylvania's black middle class

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about graduating from McKeesport High School and attending Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her first semester at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her student activity in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about registering African American voters in McKeesport, Pennsylvania in 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about civil rights activities in the summer of 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes meeting her husband during her time at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks describes meeting her husband as an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin remembers President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin remembers the 1963 March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes majoring in English major at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes the black alumni at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about returning to McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks describes how she started a public library in North Versailles, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes earning her M.A. from Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania in 1974

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her master's thesis on W.E.B. Du Bois' fiction

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about earning her law degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about working for the Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about working in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin lists cases she tried in the Office of the Attorney General

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about running for judge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in 1987 and winning in 1989

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her time as judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes the kinds of cases she tried as an Allegheny County judge

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about being selected as a Fulbright Scholar

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her Fulbright scholarship in Zimbabwe

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about travelling to Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania on a team sponsored by the American Bar Association in 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about traveling to China under the Presidential Rule of Law Initiative in 1998

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her service on the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her appointment to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her handling of the Pennsylvania legislature's pay raise case

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about retiring from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and joining the law firm of Duane Morris LLP

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes what she may have done differently

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin considers her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin briefly describes her future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about running for judge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in 1987 and winning in 1989
The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin talks about her appointment to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005
Transcript
Now, in '87 [1987], well, I guess in '86 [1986] I guess, you decided to run for office?$$Uh-huh.$$Now, how did that come about? What gave you the idea to run for judge?$$Well, I'm trying to think about the dates here. What happened is that Governor [Richard Lewis "Dick"] Thornburgh appointed Doris Smith [-Ribner], an African American woman, to the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County [Pennsylvania]. And she served for a year or a little under a year. Anyway, it had always been that if you got an appointment from the governor and you ran, you won. I mean, that was just it, because-- But she ran and she lost. And there were a number of articles talking about an African American woman couldn't be elected, and was an African American woman electable in Allegheny County, those kinds of things. And I had worked on Doris' campaign. By the way, she ran the next time statewide, and won. She's now sitting on the Commonwealth Court. But I said to my husband [Arthur Baldwin], "I think I'd really like to try this. I'd like to run. I have the litigation background, you know, I have the administrative skills. I think I'd like to do this." Neither of us had any idea what we were getting into. Needless to say, I hadn't even run for office when I was in high school, so I had no idea what it was like. And, but we built up a grassroots campaign, literally. And my husband said something that made a lot of sense, because we had never raised money--we didn't even know--we were reading all the rules and trying to do everything right. And our friends were, of course, coming behind us and doing all of these kinds of things. And, but he said, "You know what? We invest in everybody else. You know, if somebody's running and we think they're a good candidate, we put money into their campaign. If we can't invest in you, then we're pretty poor." You know, so we did. We invested in the campaign and ran a low budget campaign. It was a very difficult campaign. I ended up--you can cross-file, and I ended up winning on the Republican ticket and losing on the Democratic ticket. And then, of course, the Democrats said, "Well, of course, you're going to drop out of the race." And I said, "No." To me, it's a commitment. If you put your name on the ballot, you don't say "If I lose on your ballot, I'm not running." I said, "I don't think that's fair to the people who are voting for you. So, I'm going to run, and they will know that I'm a Democrat, but I'm going to run on that ticket." Well, it made some of the "powers that be" in the Democrat Party upset. And anyway, to make a long story short, I came in third. Unfortunately, there were two seats, so I lost in '87 [1987]. But I never stopped, I continued to run. And they told me, "You're never going to get the endorsement from the Democrats now. You've ruined your career and, tough." I ended up getting the endorsement of the Democratic Party. I ran and won.$$Okay. So, you won in what?$$Eighty-nine [1989].$$Nineteen eighty-nine [1989], okay.$Okay. And in 2005, you were nominated for the Pennsylvania supreme court [Supreme Court of Pennsylvania] by Governor Edward Rendell.$$Right.$$Now, did this come as a surprise? Did you know, did you see that coming?$$(Laughter). No, I didn't see it coming. It was wonderful, it really was. The whole--it was interesting that it came about, because a judge was not retained in the election, and that just didn't happen. But now we had this vacancy on the Supreme Court, and the governor had to fill that vacancy. And of course, everybody in the world who'd ever thought that they wanted to be on the Supreme Court put their hat in the ring. I, for one, had never wanted to run for the Supreme Court. I loved being on the trial level. But then again, I'm no dummy. (Laughter). You know, if you're going to be offered a Supreme Court seat, it's smart to take it. And the fact is that I was, I was thrilled that my name was being mentioned. I mean, I think that in itself is an honor. The fact that the governor actually appointed me was fabulous, it really was. And serving on the Supreme Court for the two years that I did, it was just an honor to do. And then I had an opportunity to stay on the Supreme Court, because the Chief Justice retired at the time that I was leaving. But I had already thought about my life plan, and I wanted to, I wanted several things. I wanted to get my voice back. If you're a really good judge, you have no voice if you're on-- because it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. What I'm doing is enforcing the law and interpreting the law. And I always use this example: Everybody wants to know if I'm for or against abortion, and for or against the death penalty. And I would say, what difference does it make? I raised my right hand, and I swore that I'm going to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States of the America and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislature passes laws. The legislature says the death penalty is the law in Pennsylvania. I get on the bench. Who am I as a judge to say, "You know what, I don't think I agree with that. I'm going to do this." We then lose the rule of law. What if every judge decided to do what the judge wanted to do? And the people don't seem to understand that. And they always ask you, you know, "What do you believe?" as if your belief is going to come out of that. If you're electing judges whose belief is going to come out, then you need not to elect those judges, because that's not the way that it runs. And so, the fact is, is that I think that at this point, I wanted to get my voice back; I wanted to be able to speak out on issues. There were a lot of things happening with young people that I want to speak out on, and I think that this is important. Now people, people forget that I couldn't go to a political rally for almost twenty years. I couldn't ask my best friend to give to my favorite charity. I mean, those are all things you cannot do as a judge. You can't serve on a corporate board. So, I wanted to do some of those things, and I decided that this was a great transition in order to do that.$$You hear all the time that judges use their position to influence the interpretation of the law to actually change--$$Activist judges, is what they say.$$Yeah.$$You know, this judge is interpreting it this way. And to me, what people mean by an activist judge is a judge who decides in a way you don't want them to decide. That's basically what it is, and it doesn't matter which side it comes down on, conservative or liberal. If you don't like the decision, that's an activist judge. (Laughter).$$Okay, okay. So, after--what was the biggest--$$You know what Sandra Day O'Connor said about activist judges.$$No.$$She said, "I thought an activist judge was one that got up each morning and went to the office." (Laughter).

The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr.

Justice Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. was born on June 14, 1924, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A veteran of World War II, Ortique earned his B.A. degree in sociology from Dillard University in 1947 and his M.A. degree from Indiana University in 1949. Ortique then earned his J.D. degree from Southern University Law School in 1956.

Ortique began his own private law practice in 1956, working on any type of case but focusing primarily on estate cases. His practice became one of the largest estate practices in the State of Louisiana. As the President of the Community Relations Council, Ortique served as “chief negotiator” for the peaceful desegregation of lunch counters, hotels and other public facilities in New Orleans. He served as the president of the National Bar Association from 1965 to 1967 and President Lyndon Johnson named Ortique to the Federal Hospital Council in 1966. In 1970, in the wake of killings by national guardsmen at Kent State University and Jackson State University, President Richard Nixon asked Ortique to serve on the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest. In 1974, President Nixon appointed Ortique to serve on the newly created Legal Services Corporation, a private, non-profit corporation established by the U.S. Congress to seek to ensure equal access to the criminal justice system by providing civil legal assistance to those who were unable to afford it. That same year, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Ortique as a judge pro tempore of Orleans Parish Civil District Court. In 1979, the citizens of New Orleans elected him Judge of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Ortique was later elected Chief Judge of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court by his fellow jurists.

Over the years, his work with the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Legal Aid Committee provided a model for pro bono legal work. Ortique was elected to sit on the bench of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1992. He retired from that position in 1994. In addition, Ortique served as the president of the New Orleans Urban League and was named an alternate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Clinton in 1999. Ortique passed away on June 22, 2008 at the age of 84.

Accession Number

A2008.059

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/24/2008

Last Name

Ortique

Maker Category
Middle Name

Oliver

Schools

Albert Wicker High School

Gaudet High School

Xavier University of Louisiana

Dillard University

Indiana University

Southern University Law Center

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Revius

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

ORT01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

6/14/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken (Baked, Stewed)

Death Date

6/22/2008

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. (1924 - 2008 ) was a former National Bar Association president. He was also the first African American justice appointed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Employment

Louisiana Supreme Court

Orleans Parish Civil District Court

Private Practice

Favorite Color

Black, Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:941,12:2009,31:2721,39:6904,100:7616,108:8684,153:19000,281:19935,294:25798,328:28703,380:41876,523:44038,546:46388,579:48174,604:51440,609:67970,836$0,0:1842,9:2582,19:4580,91:5468,108:5912,115:6430,123:6948,131:23698,375:24514,383:26554,411:27268,420:27880,428:37442,504:48954,634:62950,768
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Revius O. Ortique, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Revius O. Ortique, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes New Orleans' Creole community

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his early oratorical skills

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. remembers Albert Wicker High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls graduating from Gaudet High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls becoming a U.S. Army officer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his U.S. Army service

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. remembers his marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. remembers Indiana University in Bloomington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. remembers Southern University Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls the African American attorneys in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his civil law practice

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. remembers the Crown Zellerbach Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls Thurgood Marshall's U.S. Supreme Court appointment

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his federal commission and board service

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls joining the Louisiana Supreme Court

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls serving on the Louisiana Supreme Court

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his appointment to the United Nations General Assembly

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes his hope and concern for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. shares his support for Barack Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. talks about his daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls serving on the Louisiana Supreme Court
The Honorable Revius Oliver Ortique, Jr. recalls his appointment to the United Nations General Assembly
Transcript
You retired from the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1994. What was it like being on the, the Louisiana Supreme Court? Was that a- are there any highlights from that experience you want to share with us?$$That was, that was a highlight for me because I was the first African American appointed to that job, but also, it gave me an opportunity to convince others throughout the state that we could do our job and do it quite well and that they could be pleased with the job that we did, and we were satisfied that we convinced many persons connected with the Louisiana Supreme Court that we could do the job that would be asked of us if we got the appointment. When we did get the appointment, we were able to demonstrate exactly what we had been saying all along, and that was that, give us a chance and we'll make it.$$Okay.$$And we did.$In 1999, President Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] a- named you as an alternate to the United Nations General Assembly, right--correct?$$Correct (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And--yeah, now how was that experience? I mean, what--tell us about that.$$Well that, of course, was a, a very high appointment for, for anyone, black or white, but for an, an African American to be--having been asked to take on that responsibility was really unusual and, and made you feel that you were really first servant in a first class position, which you were. I never had any regrets and fortunately, I didn't appear to have made any mistakes, and, and the, the, the community was--the legal community was very satisfied with the way that we handled that job.

The Honorable Charles Z. Smith

Retired Justice of the Washington Supreme Court and prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice, Charles Zellender Smith was born on February 23, 1927, in Lakeland, Florida. Son of John R. Smith, Sr., a Cuban immigrant, and Eva Love Smith, he attended school in Franklin, North Carolina at age three, Washington Park School in Lakeland and Hungerford School in Maitland, Florida. Mentored by Dr. William H. Gray, Jr., President of Florida A&M College, he served as Gray’s administrative assistant. From 1945 to 1946, Smith served in the United States Army as a court reporter. He later joined the Gray family in Philadelphia attending Temple University, where he earned his B.S. degree in 1952. Smith then moved to Seattle, Washington, where he entered the University of Washington Law School. He was one of four minority students in a class of 120. He was the only African American or person of color in the graduating class. While in law school, Smith met Hawaii-born Eleanor Martinez, whom he married in 1955.

After graduating from law school, Smith served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Matthew W. Hill. From 1956 to 1960, he served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County. In 1961, Smith was recruited by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to join his staff. Smith’s assistance was sought by the Attorney General in investigating mismanagement of the Central States Teamsters Pension Fund. He led a team conducting grand juries around the country, culminating in indictment and successful prosecution of James R. Hoffa and five business men for mail fraud and wire fraud in the Northern District of Illinois in 1964.

In 1965, Smith returned to Seattle where he became the first African American or person of color to become a judge in the State of Washington, being appointed as Judge of the Seattle Municipal Court. In 1966, again as a “first,” he was appointed to the King County Superior Court and subsequently reelected unopposed until he left the court in 1973. Also, in 1973, Smith was appointed Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the University of Washington Law School where he served until his retirement in 1986. Later in 1973 Smith was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where he served in the Judge Advocate Division as a military judge until his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1986.

Smith served as President of the American Baptist Churches, USA in 1976 and 1977 and participated with the National Inter-religious Task Force on Soviet Jewry. He served as a delegate to Task Force follow-up conferences in Rome, Italy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Madrid, Spain.

On July 18, 1988, Smith became the first African American or person of color to serve on the Washington Supreme Court. He served three terms retiring in 2002. In 1999, he was appointed by President William J. Clinton to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, created by Congress to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience and belief abroad. In 2001, the Student Bar Association at the University of Washington Law School established the Charles Z. Smith Public Service Scholarship. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts in 2004 and was honored by Pioneer Human Services in Seattle with naming of one of its low cost housing properties as the Chares Z. Smith House.

Smith lived in Seattle, Washington with his wife, Eleanor Martinez. The couple had four adult children and six grandchildren.

Accession Number

A2007.308

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/3/2008 |and| 6/4/2008 |and| 10/27/2007

Last Name

Smith

Middle Name

Z.

Schools

Washington Park School

Robert Hungerford Industrial School

Temple University

Florida Memorial University

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Washington University School of Law

National Judicial College

Naval Justice School

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Lakeland

HM ID

SMI21

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Truth, Justice And Freedom.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

2/23/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Death Date

8/28/2016

Short Description

Federal government appointee, law professor, and state supreme court judge The Honorable Charles Z. Smith (1927 - 2016 ) was the first African American to serve on the State of Washington's Supreme Court. In addition to holding this Washington Supreme Court position from 1988 until his retirement in 2002, Justice Smith was also known for serving on the staff of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and being appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom by President William J. Clinton.

Employment

Municipal Court of Seattle

Washington Supreme Court

U.S. Army

King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

U.S. Department of Justice

King County Superior Court

University of Washington School of Law

U.S. Marine Corps

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Charles Z. Smith's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the race relations in Franklin, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his mother's formal education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his mother's move to Lakeland, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the origin of his father's name

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his early musical interests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his sisters' radio show on WLAK Radio in Lakeland, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls attending Robert Hungerford Normal and Industrial School in Eatonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers meeting William H. Gray, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his decision to study law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his academic accomplishments

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers enlisting in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his discharge from the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about why he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his study of group dynamics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers applying for law school

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his admittance to the University of Washington School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences in Olympia, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls meeting his wife, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls meeting his wife, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his position as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County, Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Washington's criminal justice system

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers prosecuting drug related cases

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with racial discrimination

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls being recruited by Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Dave Beck and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the feud between Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the reasoning behind Jimmy Hoffa's pardon

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls the Jimmy Hoffa case he tried in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the tensions between J. Edgar Hoover and Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers J. Edgar Hoover

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his appointment to the Municipal Court of Seattle

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his role in decriminalizing public intoxication, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his role in decriminalizing public intoxication, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his appointment to the King County Superior Court

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers a murder case he presided over in the King County Superior Court, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers a murder case he presided over in the King County Superior Court, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the sentencing criteria in the State of Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his cases while serving on the King County Superior Court

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Seattle's discriminatory housing practices, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Seattle's discriminatory housing practices, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his further judicial studies and education

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his judicial appointment in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers one of his U.S. Marine Corps cases

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the differences between civilian and military courts

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his teaching schedule at the University of Washington School of Law

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the University District Defender Services clinical program

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his work as a commentator on KOMO Radio and KOMO-TV

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his television segments on KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his work on the Juvenile Justice Standards Commission

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the enforcement of constitutional rights for juveniles

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the juvenile courts in the State of Washington

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls one of his juvenile court cases

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith shares his stance on incarceration

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Gary Ridgway's trial

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers one of his King County Superior Court cases

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the American Baptist Churches USA

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the memberships of Baptist churches in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his involvement with various Washington task forces

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers his appointment to the Washington Supreme Court

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his tenure on the Washington Supreme Court

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with discrimination in the Washington Supreme Court, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with discrimination in the Washington Supreme Court, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his colleagues at the Washington Supreme Court

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers the executive committee of the Washington Supreme Court

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his status in the Washington Supreme Court

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the civil rights leaders in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference protests

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his judicial career

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the importance of community programs

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his family

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$2

DATape

8$10

DAStory

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DATitle
The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his work on the Juvenile Justice Standards Commission
The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his tenure on the Washington Supreme Court
Transcript
Seventy-three [1973], you also served as co-chairperson of the Juvenile Justice Standards commission [IJA/ABA Joint Commission on Juvenile Justice Standards]. Now, that's, that sounds very important and, with the juvenile court over a hundred--we were talking about it before we started--$$Yeah.$$--doing this interview.$$Well, my background had included service in the juvenile court. When I was on the King County Superior Court, I was assigned on rotation to the juvenile court. So I had a background in juvenile courts. The American Bar Association and the Institute of Judicial Administration [New York, New York] had foundation grants to conduct an extensive study on juvenile practices. And I was initially a member of the commission, and through a transition of changes, I became co-chairperson of the, of the commission in the last five years of its existence. But we conducted studies. We hired researchers to do studies, but we had meetings of lawyers--the commission consisted of lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, social workers. And we would have a meeting somewhere around the country every three months. And all of this was, you know, developed and cataloged, and over a period of about--that started in '73 [1973]. Nineteen seventy-eight [1978] we published thirty-seven volumes of books on juvenile court practices. It was initially published by Ballinger Publishing [Ballinger Publishing Company] in Boston [Massachusetts]. And it was circulated throughout the country. And the Ballinger company was going to destroy the printing plates and the American Bar Association purchased the printing plates. So back in those days, we had printing plates. So it has been republishing, and since 1978, there is a current version of those juvenile justice standards, thirty-seven volumes. I, I pulled off the shelf a copy of it to give you some idea of what the volumes were like. But it's not necessary for this particular interview, but after it, I'll show you what it amounted to. But they sort of set the tone for creating a new approach to the treatment of juveniles and particularly, after a case called In re Gault [In re Gault, 1967], G-A-U-L-T where the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia [U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit] had a ruling that indicated that juveniles are entitled to constitutional rights. And up until that time, juveniles were not entitled to constitutional rights. And in the Gault case, very simply, Gerald Gault was charged with disorderly conduct for making an obscene telephone call to a neighbor woman. He was charged with a felony in Arizona. He went before the judge, and the judge says, you don't need to deny it. I know you did it. You're guilty and sentenced him to detention in the juvenile system until he reached the age of twenty-one years. And Gerald Gault then was sixteen years old. That case was appealed by a volunteer lawyer who took it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and they ended up saying that juveniles had a constitutional right. And that changed the tone of juvenile courts throughout the country. And so the Juvenile Justice Standards commission was sort of using the Gault case as a platform for saying we have to do things differently now than we have been doing it in the past. And so that's what the Juvenile Justice Standards commission was, and we completed our work in 1978, published our materials and the commission itself went out of existence.$So what were the highlights of your term on the supreme court of the State of Washington [Washington Supreme Court]? And I don't know if that's the best way to ask it, but what happened there? What were the significant events, I guess, for you?$$Well, the--it's, again, an interesting thing. I was on the court for fourteen years, and I wrote 350 opinions. And the most--and I cannot remember any particular one. You know, if someone called one to my attention, I would remember, but the collegiality on the court, we have nine justices on the supreme court, and you either get along with them or you don't get along with them because everything is done by group. All opinions are based upon the consensus of the group, so that even though I might write an opinion, and I recommend it to the others, they have to vote on it. And if I write an opinion and we take a vote on it, if I get five votes, then that becomes the court's opinion. But if I don't get five votes, it shifts. And it's not my opinion anymore. But the--it's sort of like, I guess, a fencing game. It's parry right, parry left, and you touche and you (laughter), you win your point by scoring. And with a supreme court such as ours and most supreme courts operate in the same way, it's a matter of intellectually convincing your colleagues of a position that you take on a particular case. Our cases are preassigned. And so at the beginning of a term, I knew, which cases were assigned to me, but they weren't assigned to me because of background. They're randomly assigned. Someone in the clerk's office pulls a, literally pulls a name out of a hat and says, this goes to Smith [HistoryMaker Charles Z. Smith], this goes to this person, this goes to that person, so that at the beginning of a term, I would get my assigned cases. So I had two judicial clerks, law clerks who worked with me doing the research, reading everything relating to the case, the briefs and other documents and things like that. Then I would prepare a presentence report, which was distributed to the other judges prior to the hearing. And then we would have the hearing where the lawyers would appear. And then we would go into recess to consider a case based upon the prehearing memorandum, prepared by the judge responsible for the case and the arguments presented by counsel. And then a recommendation is made for a result, and then the vote is taken. The chief justice presides over those meetings. So that's the way it would go. I found that, that experience was a good experience. I had some non-good experiences on the supreme court, but it had nothing to do with the routine process. And I have threatened to write a book called 'The Dark Side of the Temple,' and the Temple of Justice [Olympia, Washington] is where our supreme court is located. And the word dark has many meanings. I'm not white. Therefore, I am dark. As the junior justice on the court, I was assigned the worst courtroom, worst chambers in the building, next to the helicopter pad, and little things would happen. And then there was a cabal, C-A-B-A-L, against me from five of the nine justices, the chief justice and four of the others on a committee that ostensibly was based on seniority. And I had seniority over two of the people (laughter) in the group. But they were making decisions that affected me, and, and I chose not to make an issue of it while I was on the court and decided after I retired I would write a book. But I haven't had the time, energy nor inclination to begin writing the book yet. But when I write the book, I will tell of the negative experiences I had on the court. But--and they had nothing to do with race, which is very interesting. And I think it had to do with, one, my credentials, and two, my arrogance. I, I never took a second seat to anyone from an intellectual standpoint, and nobody on the court had my credentials. The highest ranking [U.S.] military person on our court was a first lieutenant in the Second World War [World War II, WWII]. And none of them had been law professors, and I was a full tenured law professor (laughter). And so I came to the court with a lot of credentials. My international activities, all those other things were unique in the sense that compared to other members on the court, who were provincial. And so these things created an atmosphere of resentment against me.

The Honorable Harold D. Melton

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold David Melton is the son of Carole H. Melton of Atlanta, Georgia. His father and role model, Augustus A. Melton, Jr. of Washington, D.C. is the first Black person and one of two to manage the District of Columbia’s National Airport (now Reagan International Airport).

Melton was born in Washington, D.C. on September 25, 1966. He was the younger of two boys. He grew up in the East Pointe and Marietta sections of Atlanta. In 1985, Melton attended Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama where he majored in international business and Spanish. During his second year at Auburn, he financed his tour of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil as a basketball player and Spanish interpreter for the school’s basketball team. Melton was the first person of color elected to serve as president of the student senate at Auburn and was the second to run and win as an independent. In 1991, he earned his J.D. degree from Georgia State University in Athens, Georgia. Following graduation from law school, he accepted a position in the office of Alabama Governor Guy Hunt as Assistant Attorney General in the Fiscal Affairs Division. He was promoted to Senior Assistant Attorney General in 1997 and Section Leader in the Tax Division. In 1998, he was selected to serve as Assistant to the Governor for Youth Affairs.

From 1998 to 2003, Melton supervised an administrative staff and six lawyers in the Consumer Interests Section as Leader in the Georgia Department of Law in Atlanta. In January 2003, Melton was appointed Executive Counsel to the Honorable Sonny Perdue to represent the Governor on legal issues. At thirty-eight years of age on July 1, 2005, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Melton is an active board member of Atlanta Youth Academies and serves as Youth Leader for Southwest Christian Fellowship Church. From 1991 to 2002, he was a Volunteer Leader for Young Life Ministries.

Melton resides in Atlanta with his wife, Kimberly and their three children.

Accession Number

A2006.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/17/2006

Last Name

Melton

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Schools

University of Georgia

Auburn University

St. Olive Elementary School

East Cobb Middle School

Wheeler High School

First Name

Harold

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

MEL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bermuda

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/25/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Nachos

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Harold D. Melton (1966 - ) was appointed Chief Justice to the Georgia Supreme Court, and has also served in the capacities of Section Leader and Assistant to the Attorney General in the Office of the Governor, in the Tax Division for the state of Alabama and Consumer Interests Division in Georgia.

Employment

Office of the Governor, Georgia

Georgia Law Department

Supreme Court of Georgia

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Harold D. Melton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his maternal grandparents' family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his maternal grandparents' family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his paternal grandparents' family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton remembers his childhood in Suitland, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his neighborhood in East Point, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton talks about his paternal great-grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton remembers his predominately white elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton remembers East Cobb Middle School in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his interests in middle school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his family's religious and holiday traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton remembers Wheeler High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls being voted Mr. Wheeler in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton talks about African Americans leaders, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton reflects upon African Americans leaders, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls his first quarter at Auburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls his experience of racial discrimination at Auburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton remembers his classes at Auburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his trip to South America with Athletes in Action

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls playing the clarinet in middle school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes the drug culture in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his experiences at Auburn University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls his campaign for student government president, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls his campaign for student government president, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton reflects upon his mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his role as student government president

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Harold D. Melton reflects upon standardized tests

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
The Honorable Harold D. Melton describes his trip to South America with Athletes in Action
The Honorable Harold D. Melton recalls his campaign for student government president, pt. 1
Transcript
So you picked up basketball again?$$Well, in high school [Joseph Wheeler High School, Marietta, Georgia], I--one of my dreams was to play college basketball.$$Okay.$$But I never got good enough and maybe I was too busy doing other stuff to put the time and energy to get good enough, I never got good enough. And through my involvement with campus crusade [Campus Crusade for Christ; Cru], I learned about the sports ministry of campus crusade which was Athletes in Action. And Athletes in Action sponsored trips to various countries. And the more I learned about Athletes in Action the more intrigued I became. And so one day I called up the office and said, "I'm interested in these trips. How does this work? How do you select your players?" They said, "Well normally we select college players unless you have something else to offer; if you're not a college player we're not particularly interested." Now of course I wasn't playing college ball so I said, "What do you have in mind?" He said, "Well it's like if you have a musical skill or any number of things they list." I said, "What about foreign language?" And he said, "Yeah if you got foreign language, we're interested." So I applied based on my high school basketball experience and experience I had with foreign language and that combination was enough for them to take me on and I ended up playing with Athletes in Action down in South America when we went through Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and I was a player translator. And--$$How long was that tour?$$Three weeks. It was a three week tour and we had a training camp in Colorado.$$What part of Colorado? You remember?$$Colorado Springs [Colorado].$$Lovely.$$Yeah, beautiful. And it was my first exposure to two a day practices and really college level basketball practices.$$Right.$$And which I loved every minute of it and that hurt too (laughter), but I loved every minute of it. And then the exposure of being able to travel through Lima, Peru and various parts of Bolivia and Brazil and see the cultures and play against teams down there and, and play with college level players. It was just a dream.$$How much time did you get to spend with the people or in the, you know in the towns and cities? I know you were there for basketball but did you have tours, or?$$We had tours and we traveled a good bit, but we generally spent maybe two or three days in a town and that might be one or two games while we were there. When we weren't playing we would have lots of time to walk around, go to various shops and bazaars and see whatever it was to see in the town. Bolivia for example, I remember going out to Arequipa [Peru] and Lake Titicaca which is the highest lake in the world and seeing the Quechua Indians there, taking pictures of the landscape and really seeing all aspects of society, meeting with some of the local leadership in city. I at the time was semi-fluent. I would go--they would take me out to various radio stations. I'd do a radio station interview in Spanish. We would do basketball camps in the community.$$With the locals?$$With the locals, with the kids.$$All age groups or just?$$All age groups. And when we got to Brazil we spent a week in Brazil. The last week we did a basketball camp with the high school age kids and, which was a lot of fun just teaching them and then we'd play, we played a couple of games while we were there and the kids at the camp got to see us play an actual game.$$I'm trying to see if the Brazilian festival was going on then.$$No.$$It was not?$$No, no.$$All right. Because there is an Afro, what Creole--$$Right.$$--community there. Did you all get a chance to visit that community?$$We, we spent a little time in Rio de Janeiro [Brazil] and we walked around and Rio is probably as diverse as any place on the planet. All kinds of races and all kinds of races have mixed. So you see a lot of, a lot of everything in terms of racial diversity.$And then when I got back, it freed up a lot of time and at this point I was--I had moved up within the ranks so to speak of student government and then as I was approaching my senior year, I was thinking about what I was gonna do within student government is, I was thinking what my overall year would look like and I was at the point where I was either gonna move up or out. And based on where I was at the time, the only place up to move to was the president of student government. But there never been an African American president of student government at Auburn [Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama]. There'd only been one independent president and there was already a guy who had indicated when he first stepped foot on campus that he wanted to be student government president.$$So what do you mean an independent one?$$It's not a fraternity.$$Oh, okay. All right.$$So there's only, there's only been one president who was not in a fraternity.$$Who went on his own and just kind of did it without support of his brothers and his organization.$$Exactly.$$Okay. And he wasn't African American?$$No. He was not.$$All right. Okay. There had not been one before.$$And so obviously it was a prospect that required some degree of consideration and when I got back to campus I started talking to some of the campus leaders who I knew fairly well. I said, "What do you think about this idea?" And it was favorably received. They generally told me uniformly that I think they thought it was a good idea and so I went about the process of putting my name in the hat to run for president.$$I like the way you sent out some feelers.$$Yeah. It's one thing to think that it's a good idea, but you know it's another thing to know that other people think it's a good idea.$$It's like not just jumping into the pool but testing the water first before (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, right.$$--you jump into--good strategy.$$And I guess you know what I know now about politics it's not unusual to have exploratory committees is what they call it. I know this--I didn't know that's what I was doing.$$Well you been doing this a long time you know.$$Yeah.$$You hadn't been started then you--it goes back. Okay.$$Right. And the good thing it's all about relationships and these people were friends, they were genuine friends that I'd known for the few years that I was there and they thought it was a good idea and fortunately they were right and I ran against two other young men and--$$But you were independent?$$I was independent.$$Okay.$$They were both out of fraternities and I just ended up, ended up being one of those perfect storms where things just seem to align and momentum started building and one thing led to another and next thing I know I was successful in the election.

The Honorable Debra James

Judge Debra Ann James was born on February 16, 1953 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her early childhood, the family relocated to St. Albans, Queens, New York. James attended Monmouth Regional High School in New Jersey where she was a member of the student council and the honor society. She earned her high school diploma in 1971.

James received her B.A. degree in American government and political science in 1975 and her J.D. degree in 1978 from Cornell University. After graduating, James worked as the assistant corporation counsel for New York City. She represented municipal corporations in trial and appellate courts. In 1983, she served as associate counsel for New York State Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Corporation. James then went on to work for the New York Mortgage Agency. Prior to running for judgeship on the New York civil court, she served as general counsel for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

In 1994, James was elected to the New York City Civil Court. During her tenure on the bench, James has managed thousands of lawsuits across a variety of areas. In 2002, James was appointed acting state supreme court justice.

A resident of Harlem for more than twenty years, James is a member of a number of professional and civic organizations. She is an avid reader, jazz music enthusiast, and art collector.

James was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.033

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/31/2005

Last Name

James

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Monmouth Regional High School

Ps 34 John Harvard School

Cornell University

Cornell Law School

Ps 192 Jacob H Schiff School

First Name

Debra

Birth City, State, Country

Knoxville

HM ID

JAM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/16/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Black Beans, Rice

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Debra James (1953 - ) served as a judge for the New York City Civil Court before being appointed an acting state Supreme Court justice.

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:1522,23:11862,129:15624,245:34581,496:54179,771:60404,913:66000,968:73400,1183:101466,1606:103482,1622:104058,1627:112632,1690:113100,1789:119210,1890:140040,2220$0,0:2192,24:6422,68:7644,79:13472,194:28780,348:29860,358:37832,406:40146,462:56776,765:57440,775:67600,980:68692,1016:72808,1091:75328,1159:85520,1249:98740,1428:107851,1515:109243,1537:112515,1560:113230,1587:113835,1601:117118,1636:117670,1643:137405,1955:137930,1961:138560,1968:143086,2042:146430,2096:148661,2135:150800,2156:151502,2168:159810,2300:186134,2471:187262,2513:193457,2814:194247,2826:200912,2926:211258,3076:219450,3164:219947,3263:238932,3470:242504,3510:243632,3542:255000,3709:262896,3790:267660,3854
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Debra James' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Debra James lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Debra James describe her mother, Elizabeth Kemp James

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Debra James describes her father, Edward James

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Debra James talks about how her parents met and their early married life

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Debra James describes her earliest memory of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Debra James talks about her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Debra James describes her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Debra James recalls holiday celebrations in her childhood home

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Debra James describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Debra James talks about her elementary school years at P.S. 34 in Queens Village, New York, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Debra James talks about her elementary school years at P.S. 34 in Queens Village, New York, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Debra James talks about her junior high years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Debra James describes her personality in junior high

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Debra James describes the impact of her family's move from New York to Tinton Falls, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Debra James recalls her experience at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Debra James talks about her early aspirations as a high school student

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Debra James describes the role of church in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Debra James describes the factors that informed her passion for justice

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Debra James talks about her decision to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and the student takeover of Straight Hall in 1969

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her experience at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Debra James recalls her decision to study law

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Debra James describes her experience at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Debra James talks about her first job as assistant corporation counsel for the City of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Debra James describes her tenure on the New York State Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Debra James recalls the challenges she faced in the job market as an African American woman after graduating from Cornell Law School in 1978

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Debra James describes why she moved to Harlem in New York City, New York and how she became a judge

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Debra James talks about running for a judgeship in Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Debra James describes the controversy surrounding elected judges in New York State

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Debra James talks about her first campaign for a judgeship

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Debra James describes her experience with criminal cases

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Debra James comments on memorable cases from the Civil Court of the City of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Debra James talks about her appointment to the New York Supreme Court

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Debra James talks about the difference between lawyers and judges

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Debra James talks about the qualities a judge possesses

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Debra James talks about Rochdale Holding Corp. v. Neuendorf

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Debra James describes the increase of gender and ethnic diversity on the bench

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Debra James describes herself as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Debra James shares her advice for lawyers and for aspiring lawyers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Debra James talks about reality-based court shows on TV and the importance of jurors

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Debra James talks about appellate authority over jury decisions

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Debra James describes how the African American experience informs her perspective

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her desires to be an appellate court judge

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Debra James reflects upon her position as a role model

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Debra James talks about what she would do differently

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Debra James describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Debra James talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Debra James talks about the importance of history

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Debra James talks about her values

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Debra James reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Debra James describes her greatest accomplishment

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Debra James talks about the importance of art

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Debra James narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Debra James recalls her decision to study law
Debra James talks about Rochdale Holding Corp. v. Neuendorf
Transcript
And one of my favorite courses was a course given by Daniel Danowski, professor of government, called the development of African American rights in --constitutional rights of African Americans in the United States. Really wonderful course. He used a book by a lawyer named Loren Miller, I think his name was. And it was just a really eye-opening course in terms of how the rights of African Americans evolved over, over, you know, time since we--our ancestors were brought, for the most part, here, until, I guess up 'til the Civil Rights Movement, and sort of what happened in the law. And that was an undergraduate course that I took. That was probably just very, very powerful course, and probably clinched or cinched my decision to ultimately study law.$$And so that's what--that was going to be my next question. When were you thinking, okay, my father [Edward James] was right, I'm going to go to law school?$$Toward, really toward the--probably my junior year. We had to sort of declare what we were going to do as a major, and I knew I had explored the medicine and my passion really wasn't there. So, and there's this is sort of wisdom that says, if you're not sure what you want to do (laughter), you go to law school, so that was the wisdom then. And I think, I decided, well I'm not sure what I want to do and I get a chance not to make up my mind again. I mean, I'll study law, but I don't have to actually make up my mind as to what I want to do.$$Until you went to Cornell Law School [Ithaca, New York]?$$Yeah, I remained at Cornell.$$Why did you decide to stay at Cornell?$$Well, financially, it made sense, frankly. Cornell had a great law school. That was the reason. You know, and honestly, it was second to Columbia [University, New York City, New York]. That was really my first choice 'cause I wanted to be in New York. You know, I had been away in high school, and I had missed such a--always I wanted to be back in New York. But financially Cornell made more sense. My father [Edward James] frankly again, he won on that one too. He thought, you know can always go to New York, and this is probably going to be an easier adjustment, so you can really concentrate on studying law.$So, Judge James, I know that when we ended you had mentioned one of your cases that was just in the law review?$$New York Law Journal it's called.$$Law Journal, I'm sorry. Tell us a little bit about that one?$$Well the New York Law Journal just to get a little introduction, is the paper record of, in New York State for the court system. And it publishes articles about decisions of interest, and many, judges are very proud, proud about our written work, so we're very proud when the Law Journal chooses to publish one of our opinions in full. So we're even prouder when they decide to do a cover story. So, on Friday, the Law Journal published a story about one of the cases, one of the recent decisions I made in a case.$$What--can you tell us a little bit about the case [Rochdale Holding Corp. v. Neuendorf]?$$Yes, it, it began--New York City, you cannot get away from landlord-tenant, I'm realizing that. You really can't get away from it. But in any event, it--and again, it, the questions, the legal questions are probably more, of more interest, of more interest to lawyers than academics, frankly. As is the Law Journal in general. But in short, it involved an international art dealer name Har- Hans Neuendorf, who lived in New York for a few years in Manhattan. And he and his family rented a mansion. He fell behind in his rent and was brought to court, and the civil court, the lower court, determined that he must pay $112,000. Well, his--he and his family moved back to Germany, and he still runs a business here in New York. But what the interesting legal question was, whether or not, the--my court, the higher level court, maintain jurisdiction over him, does the lower court have jurisdiction? And again, it sounds fairly straightforward, but it's pretty technical, I mean, the question of whether or not the power of the court, it's called, over Mr. Neuendorf would continue in the [New York State] Supreme Court. And there really haven't been a lot of decisions about it. I mean, it's partly because--a question of whether it continues in this other court, which process was not served on him in that new court. And part of the question was, when does personal jurisdiction, once you're before a court, and again, in personam jurisdiction means power over the person, I mean it's sort of the essence of what law is about. I mean the people subjecting themselves to the power of the court, when does that end? And there have been some indications under New York State law that it only ends when judgment is satisfied. But it was not a foregone sort of conclusion. And this gentleman had moved out, not only out of the state, 'cause there are limitations on the state's power over people who do not--no longer live in the state--but moved to Germany. And so I found that because the state had effectuated its power over Mr. Neuendorf in the initial court, that that jurisdiction and that power remained. And particularly, it was important because the asset, his company, is still here in New York. So the question was whether that company was required to make good on the debt. And I found that the company, you know, would be required to make good on that debt. So he's required to make installment--the company is required to make installment payments toward this $112,000. And then Mr. Neuendorf does come back into New York, 'cause that was part of the equities when we talk about heart and head, the heart and mind. There's a law that says the person--the power of the, the court's power extends, you know, until the judgment is satisfied. But then the equities of it, he was coming back to New York and staying at some very famous, (laughter) you know, hotels and clubs while he stayed here, and so there's some equity, I think there that the court was influenced by, the judges were influenced by.

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears became the first woman and the youngest person ever to become a Georgia State Supreme Court Justice. Sears was born on June 13, 1955 in Heidelberg, Germany. She grew up traveling the globe with her family and father, Colonel Thomas Sears, who served as Master Army Aviator in the U.S. Army. The family eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, where she attended elementary and high schools. In 1976, Sears earned her B.S. degree at Cornell University and moved to Atlanta, where she attended Emory University to earn her J.D. degree.

After earning her law degree, Sears decided to stay in Atlanta. There, she made a name for herself working as a trial lawyer for the law firm, Alston and Bird. In 1985, after five years of working, Mayor Andrew Young appointed her as a judge in Atlanta’s City Traffic Court. After serving three years in this position, Sears was appointed as a Superior Court judge for the state of Georgia. She became the first African American woman to hold such a position in the state of Georgia. In February of 1992, Governor Zell Miller appointed Sears to Georgia’s Supreme Court, where she became the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve. Sears retained her seat on the state’s Supreme Court by winning a statewide election in the fall of 1992. This made her the first woman to win a contested statewide election in Georgia. In 1993, Sears received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Morehouse College. She then continued her education and earned a LL.M degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Sears is currently the number two justice in Georgia’s Supreme Court. She is considered next in line to become the state’s chief justice.

Sears has several civic and professional affiliations. She served as chairman of both the American Bar Association’s Board of Elections and the Judicial Section of the Atlanta Bar’s Minority Clerkship Program. Sears founded and served as the first president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. Currently, she serves as an adjunct professor of pretrial litigation at the Emory Law School Council and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 1998, Sears was named the “Georgia Woman of the Year” by the Georgia State Commission on Women. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Emory Medal from Emory University for being an “Outstanding Young Alumna”.

Sears is married to Haskell Sears Ward, and they have two children, a son, Addison, and a daughter, Brennan.

Sears was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 15, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.205

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/15/2004

Last Name

Sears

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ward

Schools

Beaver Heights Elementary

Lanham Elementary School

Bartlett Middle School

Wilder Junior High School

Savannah High School

Alfred E. Beach High School

Cornell University

Duke University School of Law

Emory University School of Law

National Judicial College

University of Virginia School of Law

First Name

Leah

Birth City, State, Country

Heidelberg

HM ID

SEA01

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Slave Coast, Georgia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

6/13/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

Germany

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Leah Ward Sears (1955 - ) is the first African American woman appointed as a Superior Court judge in the State of Georgia. She is also the first woman and youngest person ever to serve on Georgia's Supreme Court.

Employment

Alston and Bird

Atlanta’s City Traffic Court

State of Georgia

Georgia Supreme Court

Emory University Law School

City of Atlanta

Favorite Color

Bright Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:616,14:1155,76:2310,95:2618,100:22198,359:24172,374:24548,379:25018,385:33942,480:38816,517:39212,522:39905,530:40796,541:45190,572:46470,592:46870,598:49830,653:50310,660:50630,665:52710,694:54630,723:55110,732:55430,737:56870,755:59030,796:59990,812:60630,822:60950,827:61430,835:61830,841:62230,847:67330,853:67883,861:68199,866:68515,871:69384,884:71398,916:72454,936:82968,1111:83591,1119:83947,1124:89884,1163:93070,1219:93398,1224:95120,1246:95612,1254:102802,1328:109850,1425:110225,1431:110525,1436:110975,1444:111425,1451:111725,1456:112025,1463:117200,1567:117875,1577:123840,1622$0,0:4661,63:4977,68:5372,74:12482,227:18850,262:20650,294:20950,299:21775,310:23425,334:24175,346:25000,360:25750,367:26050,372:28675,417:30400,448:31300,464:37042,493:37477,500:41044,544:41566,552:44785,602:45220,608:49005,630:49420,636:49918,644:50333,650:51163,665:51661,673:52159,708:52657,715:57554,850:60210,896:60625,902:61123,910:62202,929:62700,937:75442,1076:82980,1152:83320,1160:84595,1179:85360,1194:85870,1202:86210,1207:92367,1257:93672,1276:94803,1293:95760,1312:96195,1318:96804,1326:97413,1334:98370,1348:99066,1357:101850,1389:108378,1427:109170,1443:110028,1461:112880,1485:113360,1493:113920,1501:117520,1561:117840,1566:124359,1647:124724,1653:125454,1665:125892,1672:126622,1683:127206,1692:148012,1944:148635,1954:149436,1964:166294,2213:173948,2243:176030,2253:176426,2258:177020,2266:192973,2493:193338,2499:199700,2566:200610,2604:206770,2703:207120,2710:207610,2718:214962,2761:215332,2767:215702,2774:220068,2852:221696,2882:222954,2901:231612,3056:233166,3085:233610,3092:245310,3158:245550,3163:247170,3197:247470,3203:250480,3245
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Leah Ward Sears's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's personality and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the socioeconomic status of her father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's personality and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how her father's career as a U.S. Army colonel affected her upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes various schools she attended growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being a cheerleader at Alfred Ely Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recounts the impact that her third grade teacher had upon her life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her high school interests and personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her experiences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers her reaction to the political assassinations of 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers ideas she embraced as an undergraduate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls living in Wari House at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears relates how her views have changed on human development and family studies

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how she became interested in studying law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about attending law school during the early years of her first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her tenure working at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about becoming a judge on the City Court of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects on how she improved as a judge as she gained experience

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about continuing her education to enhance her capabilities as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears gives her perspective on televised court shows

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being elected to Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of thirty-two

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears offers her opinions on sentencing guidelines within the judicial system

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about the trial of Wayne Williams in 1982

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her term on the Fulton County Superior Court

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls being appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1992

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her relationship with older colleagues while serving on the Supreme Court of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the responsibilities of the Supreme Court of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her relationship with older colleagues while serving on the Supreme Court of Georgia
The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recounts the impact that her third grade teacher had upon her life
Transcript
When I got up here [to the Supreme Court of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia], the average age of the guys were 65 or 63, all white except for Bob Benham [Justice Robert Benham] who was maybe 48 or 50, young, fairly young black. Remember, I'm thirty-six, and they all are looking at me, like darn, you know. I'm going to upset the club. I mean, some have told me that. I mean, they would change in the robing room, put their--you know, that I would be--just the culture would change with a woman being there. But soon, very shortly afterward, they liked me and liked--maybe like a kid sister. Being young may have been an advantage but they liked me. I wasn't very strident or very loud or all that, and they would show me things. Come here. I remember Charles [L.] Weltner, who was one of our congressmen. I could not call them by their first name, because they were basically my father's [Thomas Sears] age and Charles Weltner was making copies and he said "Psst, come here. I noticed you don't call us by our names." Oh no. No, you know, 'cause you know you don't--we're southerners and you don't call someone your father's age Sam, or you know. And he said, "No, [HistoryMaker] Leah [Ward Sears], look we're your colleagues and so you have to call us by our names. So you stand right there and you say Charlie. I'm Charles so you call me Charlie." And I said, "Charlie. Charlie. Charlie, okay." And you know there were lots of things like that I just had to get used to. And I really did have great affection for all of them. You know, grew into a wonderful experience. I love the work. Love the work.$Are there any particular teachers or mentors or--$$Yeah, my--I will never forget and now I'm getting--Ms. Stewart, Ethel Stewart [ph.], the year I was at Beaver Heights [Elementary School, Capitol Heights, Maryland] took me so close to her breast and brought me back. You know for years I had been this young little black kid at all these white schools and I pretty been stripped of a lot of self-esteem, and by the time I got to her, and I think that was in the fourth grade. She could see that I think, and she took me around with her, and kind of started putting it back in. I love her. I think she's dead now but she even would take me after school. She'd tell my mother [Onnye Roundtree Sears] who taught across the hall, "Take the boys [William Thomas Sears and Michael Sears] home. I'll take her to get her hair done." Or I'll take her with me and I'll bring her by at seven, and I would just go with her. And she made me feel so proud of who I--you know I still-suddenly figured out, well I'm proud of who--I can be proud of who I am. I didn't know that. It really started to--and from then on, I could just sort of concentrate, just sort of concentrate on the work cause she gave me this infusion of, you're okay. But probably my mother could not give me, maybe she was so busy. But being a light skinned African American, she probably could not see my woman struggle with this hair and my figure, and you know, and I--it probably needed a darker skinned woman to help me through that. I don't know if it works like that now, but remember back then I was not--you know there was nobody to affirm all that. So all I knew is, every Saturday my mother complained bitterly about how nappy my--it was "What are we gonna do with this?" kind of thing, and so--and not to her--everyone did that. You know they slapped lye on your hair, and no one with--natural hair was unheard of, kind of thing. I mean even now as a, I don't call it a political statement but I refuse to wear hair that is not natural and it is because of the wounds from--I just, you know this is it and this is what you're going to get. And if you don't like it, that's your problem kind of type thing. I don't know if it's political, but it's my little statement that this is good enough. This is me.$$Okay. I think a lot of people--a lot of black women who are writers or achievers seems to do this, do likewise.$$Once you get up there and you can--and what I'm trying to say to other--in fact young black women lawyers now come up and say thank you for wearing your hair, wearing braids. That meant if you can that means I can. I can come to court. Thank you for wearing pants for the first time. You know when I started wearing pantsuits, I had lawyers say, I've never seen a judge in pants. Well God, you only see if you think about it, only see cause there are no women here. You only see judges in pants. And I know what they were saying, but then it opened up the way for women to come in neat pressed pant suits. You know, you've got to step out so that you can bring along the people after you that need some space to move in their area too. If you just jump in the box then you don't, I don't think that's being such a good role model.

The Honorable Charles Freeman

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman strove to make the state judicial system accountable and accessible to its citizens. Freeman, whose surname was probably adopted when Quakers freed his father's family before the Civil War, was born in Virginia in 1933. Freeman received his B.A. degree from Virginia Union University, and his J.D. degree from John Marshall Law School. In 1997; from there, he went on to become the first African American to be elected chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Governor Otto Kerner appointed Freeman arbitrator of the Illinois Industrial Commission in 1965; in this position, he heard and wrote decisions on more than 2,000 work-related injury cases. Eight years later, Governor Dan Walker appointed Freeman to the Illinois Commerce Commission, where he monitored businesses to ensure they maintained proper conduct and safe practices. Having practiced law from 1962 to 1977, Freeman was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County. In 1982, Freeman swore in Harold Washington, a personal friend, as the first African American mayor of Chicago; he inducted Washington for a second term in 1987.

Freeman became the first African American elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1990, and in 1997 he was elected chief justice. Fulfilling his pledge to polish the Court's administrative projects for the next century, Freeman took the questionable marriage fund to task; stressed the need for mentoring programs and high standards for public servants; and tackled prosecutorial misconduct. Freeman elucidated the court's responsibilities and capabilities in a 1996 article in the Chicago Defender.

On November 5, 2002, Freeman became the Illinois Supreme Court's senior member when he was retained for another ten-year term. Freeman received dozens of prestigious awards for his professional and volunteer work. Freeman and his wife, Marylee, raised a son, Kevin, who went on to become a partner in the firm Gardner Carton & Douglas.

Accession Number

A2003.057

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/28/2003

Last Name

Freeman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Navy Hill School

Booker T. Washington Junior High School

Armstrong High School

Virginia Union University

John Marshall Law School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Days

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Richmond

HM ID

FRE02

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

None

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Acapulco, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/12/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Flounder

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Charles Freeman (1933 - ) is former Chief Justice of the Illinois State Supreme Court.

Employment

Illinois Industrial Commission

Illinois Commerce Commission

Circuit Court of Cook County

Illinois Supreme Court

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Freeman interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman details his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman remembers his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman describes his relationship with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman remembers his childhood in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Freeman recalls his father's investment in his education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Freeman shares memories of his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Freeman describes his personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Freeman describes his education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles Freeman remembers his high school years

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles Freeman relates the influence of two role models

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Charles Freeman discovers his commitment to the law profession

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Charles Freeman describes his family structure

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Charles Freeman discusses law school and age

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman discusses his first marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman describes establishing his law practice

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman recalls his years in private practice

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman remembers Harold Washington's reluctant law career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman details Harold Washington's mayoral ambitions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman recalls Harold Washington's health issues

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Freeman details his relationship with his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Freeman explains his new role as father

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Freeman discusses winning a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman discusses his reception at the Illinois Supreme Court

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman discusses a day in the life of a Supreme Court Justice

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman describes the appellate process

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman reflects on changes in Illinois law during his tenure

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman calls for changes in standards for legal conduct

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman recalls memorable cases during his years as a trial attorney

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman describes the process of coming to a judicial decision

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman evaluates the effect of recent federal legislation on state law

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman expounds upon today's legal environment

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman discusses diversity in the courts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman reveals up-and-coming justices in Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman recalls the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman considers how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Charles Freeman in the Art Fellows Youth Band, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1940

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Charles Freeman's family members

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Charles Freeman's childhood home in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his father and brother, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1943

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his mother, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1934

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Charles Freeman as an infant, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1934

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his brother, ca. 1940

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Charles Freeman in front of his home in Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1940s

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Charles Freeman's mother in her youth

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Charles Freeman's mother vacationing at Buckroe Beach, Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Charles Freeman's father vacationing at Buckroe Beach, Hampton, Virginia

The Honorable Leander Shaw

Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, Jr. was born on September 6, 1930, in Salem, Virginia. His mother was a high school teacher and his father a high school principal, who later became the dean of Graduate Studies at Florida A&M University.
Shaw earned a B.A. from West Virginia State College in 1952. After graduating, Shaw entered the Army and served in the Korean conflict as an artillery officer. Motivated by the blatant racism he experienced in the military and inspired by the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in the South, Shaw returned to school, and received his J.D. from Howard University's School of Law in 1957.

Shaw taught at Florida A&M University's Law School from 1957-60 before entering private practice. While continuing private practice, Shaw also worked as both an assistant public defender and an assistant state's attorney in Jacksonville, Florida. His skill as a prosecutor is evident in Shaw's win/loss record: he prosecuted forty-two murder cases, and only lost one case. In 1979, Shaw was appointed to the bench, and presided over Florida's First District Court of Appeal. Just fours years later, Shaw received appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, where he served as the Chief Justice from 1990-1992 and remains its most senior member. Shaw has openly opposed Florida's continued use of the electric chair. In response to the 1999 execution of Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis, Shaw posted three-color photos taken after the event on his web site.

Shaw serves on a number of advisory boards and is a member of various professional and community associations, including the American Bar Association, the National Center for State Courts, and Florida's Human Relations Council and Police Advisory Committee. Shaw's work extends into the international sphere as well. In September of 1991, he presented a paper at the Conference of Attorneys General of the African Nations held in Nigeria. He has been granted honorary degrees from West Virginia State (LL.D.), Florida International University (Ph.D.), Nova University (LL.D), and Washington and Lee University (LL.D.) and has been the recipient of such prestigious awards as the Florida Humanist of the Year (1991), and the Ben Franklin Award (1992).

Shaw passed away on December 25, 2015.

Accession Number

A2002.065

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/19/2002

Last Name

Shaw

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lylburn Downing High School

West Virginia State University

First Name

Leander

Birth City, State, Country

Salem

HM ID

SHA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

I get that mixed up with the grass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

9/6/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak, Potatoes

Death Date

12/14/2015

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Leander Shaw (1930 - 2015 ) worked as both an assistant public defender and an assistant state's attorney in Jacksonville, Florida. His skill as a prosecutor is evident in Shaw's win/loss record: he prosecuted forty-two murder cases, and only lost one case. In 1979, Shaw was appointed to the bench, and presided over Florida's First District Court of Appeal. Just fours years later, Shaw received appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, where he served as the Chief Justice from 1990-1992

Employment

Florida A&M University

Delete

Duval County

Florida Industrial Relations Commission

First District Court of Appeal, FL

Florida Supreme Court

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leander Shaw interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw shares the origins of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw recalls his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leander Shaw remembers his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leander Shaw discusses his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leander Shaw recounts his upbringing in Lexington, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leander Shaw begins to discuss his school life in Lexington, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leander Shaw shares memories from his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw shares memories of his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw describes his childhood avocations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw recalls his undergraduate years at West Virginia State University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw reviews his post-college pursuits

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leander Shaw remembers an influential professor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw recalls his years in the U.S. military

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw describes his law school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw reviews his career pursuits following law school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw recalls his employment with the NAACP's Ink Fund

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw recounts his initial experience in private practice law

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw recalls civil rights conflict in Florida during the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw reflects on his years as a public defender

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw details his return to private practice law

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leander Shaw recalls an offer from the Florida Workers' Compensation Commision

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw recalls his experience with the Florida Industrial Relations Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw remembers his appointment to Florida's First District Court of Appeal

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw recounts his appointment as a Florida Supreme Court judge

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw recalls episodes from his years on the Florida Supreme Court

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw discusses Florida's process for retaining judges

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw recalls his campaign to retain a seat in the Florida Supreme Court

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw discusses Florida's death penalty policy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw remembers his experience as chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leander Shaw recounts the Florida Supreme Court's role in the 2000 presidential election

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw recalls the court proceedings around the 2000 presidential election

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw considers the long-term effects of the 2000 presidential election

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw reflects on his life and career

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw considers issues in the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leander Shaw evaluates the situation of African American youth

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leander Shaw calls for changes in the legal system

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leander Shaw discusses law school admissions

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leander Shaw considers his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leander Shaw shares reflections on privilege