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The Honorable Earl Strayhorn

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

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2003.005

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/14/2003

Last Name

Strayhorn

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
First Name

Earl

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

STR02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

How lucky I am to have existed and been allowed to be around for as long as I have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/24/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

2/15/2009

Short Description

County circuit court judge The Honorable Earl Strayhorn (1918 - 2009 ) was the former head of the Cook County, Illinois courts.

Employment

Cook County States Attorney's Office

City of Chicago

Circuit Court of Cook County

Northwestern University Law School

Harvard University Law School

Emory University College of Law

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Earl Strayhorn interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn details finding lost family members

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn lists his immediate family and their dates and places of birth

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn describes his parents' employment

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls migrating to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn shares his childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn lists his elementary, middle, and high schools

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn remembers growing up in Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the neighborhood gangs of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn describes himself as a boy

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details his adventures at the prom with Benny Goodman (pt 1)

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn continues with his high school prom adventure with Benny Goodman (pt 2)

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn remembers his favorite teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn remembers a racist high school instructor

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn describes his transition from an average high school student to a political science major

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn discusses his college experiences in segregated Champaign

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the 1936 Olympics

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn describes being drafted into the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn remembers Pearl Harbor

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn details his war experiences in Italy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the end of WWII

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn explains his decision to attend law school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn reflects on his years at DePaul

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls his first courtroom experience

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details his early years as an Illinois State's Attorney's

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn discusses racial discrimination and sentencing disparities in the criminal justice system

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn relates how he defeated top lawyers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn details his transition from public to private practice

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the trial of boxer Joe Louis's manager, Julian Black

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn lists his acquaintances in the NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn discusses a statutory rape case

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn details his defense of seven civil rights activists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn remembers confronting racism in office rental

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn details how he became a judge

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn remembers his advocate, U.S. Congressman William Levi Dawson

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn shares his recollections of Harold Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn recounts his career as a judge

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the case of Miguel Valdez, part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn recalls the case of Miguel Valdez, part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn relates the sotry of Miguel Valdez's sentencing and incarceration, part 3

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn expresses his feelings about the death penalty

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Earl Strayhorn discusses a death-penalty case

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Earl Strayhorn reflects on the difficulties of being a judge, and the possibility of mistakes

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Earl Strayhorn discusses Judge Vanessa Hopkins

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Earl Strayhorn explains how judges are judged

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Earl Strayhorn describes the job of overseeing judges

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Earl Strayhorn relates how he would improve the criminal justice system (part 1)

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Earl Strayhorn offers solutions for the criminal justice system (part 2)

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Earl Strayhorn shares his concerns for the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Earl Strayhorn ponders his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Photo - Earl E. Strayhorn

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Photo - Earl E. Strayhorn with Marshall Korshak, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1965

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Earl Strayhorn recalls the trial of boxer Joe Louis's manager, Julian Black
Earl Strayhorn details how he became a judge
Transcript
There was a case that you mentioned, and I heard about, the case of Julian Black?$$Oh, yes, Julian Black, Julian Black was the, the manager of Joe Louis [boxer]. When Joe Louis became famous and went on to become the heavyweight champion of the, of the world, and Julian Black was one of his managers. And Julian Black was charged here in our federal district court with income tax evasion, he and two other men. And I was part of the defense team who represented Mr. Black in the defense of that case here in the United States [7th circuit] district court. And I wasn't the lead counsel, but I was a part of that team, and, and I was active in, in that, in that case. And it was while that case was being tried and defended that the famous case of, the Brown case [Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954], striking segregation in schools, came down while we were in the midst of trying that case.$$This was 1954?$$Yes. I remember walking out of court that--the day that the decision came down, and being faced by a big headline in the 'Chicago Daily News,' which as the dominant afternoon newspaper in Chicago [Illinois] at that time, "Supreme Court Strikes Down School Segregation."$How did you become a judge? And tell me the story of how that took place.$$Well, about the time that I was being active in politics, there was this push on having more black judges. At that time, there were only three or maybe four black judges, Judge Wendell Green, Judge Ferguson, Judge [Richard A.] Harewood, those, those were the ones that I remember that were on the bench at that time. And as the opportunities opened up, the young men of my age and time in the practice of law began to come forward as candidates for these positions. We had already worked in the Young Democratic Organization in its formation and in its inception. So they had a good cadre of black lawyers that had been actively involved in the Young Democrat Organization, which was an offshoot of the regular Democratic Organization. And it was out of this organization that the young blacks that ended up on the bench were selected by the various black committeemen to be candidates for judgeships. Kenneth Wilson, out of Ralph Metcalfe's ward. Ralph Metcalfe was now a ward committeeman and one of the leaders in the Democratic Party here in Cook County [Illinois]. Kenny Wilson came out of his organization, and he became a judge. Marion Garnett (ph.), Marion Garnett and Kenny had been law partners together. And they practiced together. And Garnett came out of the eighth ward. I was a member of the second ward, Regular Democratic Organization, which was headed by the dominant black politician in the United States, Congressman William Levi Dawson, who was also a very, very important member of the Democratic Party of Cook County. And it was through Congressman Dawson's efforts and support that I was slated to take the unexpired term of a judge who had died. And that came about while I was serving as a commissioner of the Sanitary District of Greater Chicago in 1970. I had already run for the position in 1968. But 1968 was a year when the, for once in a lifetime, the Republicans won. And I lost in that 1968 election. And it was in 1970 that this opening came up to fill the vacancy of this judge who had died. And Congressman Dawson put my name forward. And I went through the selection process with the Cook County Central Democratic Committee, selection committee, and I was slated for that position. And I won in 1970. And I took the bench December 8, 1970 to fill that vacancy. That's the way, that's the way I got it. But I had worked with the organization, the second ward Democratic Organization. I was the legal counsel for Congressman Dawson in that organization. And I worked with them, ever since I had been practicing law.

The Honorable R. Eugene Pincham

R. Eugene Pincham, human rights activist, lawyer, former judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois, was a strident critic of the criminal justice system. He was born on June 28, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois but grew up impoverished in Alabama. After his high school graduation in 1942, Pincham became interested in becoming a lawyer. He attended college at LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee, and in 1944, he transferred to Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he earned his B.S. degree in political science in 1947. In 1948, Pincham married his college sweetheart, Alzata C. Henry, and that same year enrolled in Northwestern University School of Law. Despite the fact that he had to wait tables at the Palmer House Hotel and shine shoes as a full-time student, Pincham earned his J.D. degree in 1951.

Pincham then began to practice law as an attorney in the state and federal courts. In 1954, he accepted an offer to practice law with the firm that became Evins, Pincham, Fowlkes and Cooper. In 1965, Pincham was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1976, Pincham became a Circuit Court of Cook County judge and was assigned to the Criminal Division, where he served until 1984. He went on to become a justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois. There, Pincham gained a reputation as one who sought justice for the poor as well as the rich. Pincham resigned from the bench in 1989 and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. In 1991, he became the Harold Washington Party’s nominee for Mayor of Chicago. Although he lost, Pincham carried nineteen of the city’s fifty wards - a powerful endorsement from the African American community.

A member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a lifetime member of the NAACP, Pincham continued to lectured and instructed in trial and appellate techniques and advocacy after his retirement. He received numerous awards for his professional and community service and activism. Pincham passed away on April 3, 2008 at the age of 82.

Accession Number

A2002.176

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/13/2002 |and| 5/5/2003 |and| 1/17/2007

Last Name

Pincham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Eugene

Organizations
Schools

Trinity School

LeMoyne-Owen College

Tennessee State University

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

First Name

R.

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

PIN01

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

Northwestern University School of Law

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

As For Me And My House, We Will Serve The Lord.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/28/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

4/3/2008

Short Description

Civil rights activist, county circuit court judge, state appellate court judge, and trial lawyer The Honorable R. Eugene Pincham (1925 - 2008 ) grew up poor in Alabama before becoming a fixture in the Illinois legal system. As a judge Pincham, had a reputation of seeking justice for the poor as well as the rich.

Employment

Elvins, Pincham, Fowlkes and Cooper

Circourt Court of Cook County

Illinois Appellate Court

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of R. Eugene Pincham's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his maternal grandmother, Safronia Sowell

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his family's pride in their heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his mother's interest for education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham shares memories of his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the American Missionary Association and how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about learning to love his father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his expulsion from LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham describes how he met his wife at Tennessee State University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his college experience at Tennessee State University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham describes Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his participation in the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the distinction between equality and integration

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about provisions against African Americans in the U.S. Constitution

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes working as a day laborer in the cotton fields

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the lessons learned from working in the cotton field

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his Christian faith

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham recalls working through law school at Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about arguing cases before the United States Supreme Court

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his wife's role in the courtroom

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his approach to the law

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his court rulings

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his children and marrying his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his wife's first job in Chicago, Illinois as a substitute teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the birth of his three children

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about spousal roles in his marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his three children

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his experience of racial discrimination after graduating from Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes learning about being a front line lawyer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his first appeal, which overturned a death sentence

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes inheriting Joseph E. Clayton, Jr.'s clients

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham remembers a case he took from Joseph E. Clayton, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about making ends meet

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his first United States Supreme Court Case, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his first United States Supreme Court Case, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about when there are biases from the bench

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his experience in Mississippi as a lawyer in 1964

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about racial discrimination in Mississippi

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about successfully defending a white female demonstrator in Mississippi

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the personal impact of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his transition from Mississippi back to Evins, Pincham, Fowlkes and Cooper

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham describes People v. Alfano, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes People v. Alfano, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his transition from lawyer to judge

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago politics in the 1980s

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the political turbulence in Chicago after the death of Mayor Harold Washington in 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the low voter turnout in Chicago's black community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his 1991 campaign for Mayor of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his 1990 bid for President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham reflects on his 1990 bid for President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about systemic inequality and cultural indoctrination in the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the leadership vacuum in the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - R. Eugene Pincham describes what inspired the start of the non-profit organization Probation Challenge

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the memorable case that helped inspire the start of Probation Challenge headed by HistoryMaker Harold E. Bailey

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes two memorable court cases

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about People v. Smith

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham continues to recount several other memorable court cases

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his his work teaching appellate procedure and trial techniques

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the role of his wife in his career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham defends free press and talks about its role in the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the impact of technological advances on the legal process

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham describes why he took on the Ryan Harris case

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the Ryan Harris case, pt.1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the Ryan Harris case, pt.2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the media's role in the Ryan Harris case

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the Roscetti case

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Slating of R. Eugene Pincham's interview

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the Ryan Harris case settlements

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham discusses the Anna Gilvis case

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about taking the Ryan Harris case to Terry Hilliard, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about why Superintendent Terry Hilliard may have failed to discipline his officers

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham assesses the state of black political power in the City of Chicago

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about apartheid in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the necessary conditions for black political empowerment in Chicago

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about HistoryMaker Obama's potential presidential bid

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about HistoryMaker Barack Obama's presidential candidacy

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the impact of outsourcing jobs on middle class Americans

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham describes the consequences of African American underrepresentation in criminal justice jobs

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the cost of police misconduct

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the necessity of policing prosecuting misconduct

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham describes racial discrimination in Cook County's State's Attorney's Office

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the R. Kelly case

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about 2003 E2 nightclub stampede, pt.1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about 2003 E2 nightclub stampede, pt.2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about 2003 E2 nightclub stampede, pt.3

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about 2003 E2 nightclub stampede, pt.4

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the distinction between accidents and criminal conduct

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his case selection process

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham reflects on what he would do differently

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his heroes

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the American Missionary Association

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham describes meeting his wife, Alzata Pincham

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - R. Eugene Pincham describes his marriage to wife, Alzata Pincham

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about his children and grandchildren

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about educational inequity

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about the importance of improving access to as well as the value for education

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - R. Eugene Pincham talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - R. Eugene Pincham narrates his photographs, pt.1

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - R. Eugene Pincham narrates his photographs, pt.2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
R. Eugene Pincham describes his participation in the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi
R. Eugene Pincham describes the lessons learned from working in the cotton field
Transcript
I was not in Mississippi attempting to aid black folks in becoming integrated with white people. That's not why we were there. We were there trying to break down the barriers of racism and discrimination. We were there for equal chance, equal opportunity, that's what we were fighting for. And down the road the mission was diverted from tearing down the barriers and making opportunity equal, to integrating, and that was a mistake that we allowed that to happen. But it happened on purpose. And the reason they did let it happen was because it was more economically feasible for the white power structure to offer black folks "integration" than it would be to make things equal. I had no desire to go to school with white folks. I had no desire to live in white communities. I had no desire. I wanted the right to have a school as good as the whites. I wanted the right to have a neighborhood as good as the whites. I wanted the right to have a--make a mortgage without being penalized and paying extra premiums on my mortgage because I was black. I wanted good policemen. I wanted black policemen in my community patrolling my streets, just as good as the white policemen. I did not work in the movement to change from where I was or who I was. I worked in the movement to make who I was better. And I don't believe that integrating is making me better.$What Ms. Mary [Brown] would do, she would take the center row and put me on her left, and put my brother to the row to her right. The sun would be eternally hot. The days were unmercifully long. The humidity, at 90 percent humidity was a dry day. And she would admonish us as children about drinking water, don't drink too much. And as matter of fact, when the water boy would come around, she would take the dipper and make us swish the water in our mouth, spit it out and take no more than three or four swallows because it give you cramps if you drink too much water out in the field. And being a child trying to cool off, you just go gulp it down and have cramps. And she would not allow us to over drink, and she would take the water and pour it over our heads to cool us off. And when we couldn't keep up, we would fall behind. And we'd get to a point where Ms. Mary was chopping our row and my brother's row and her row. So we got too far behind, she'd start chopping, hit a lick for herself, she'd hit a lick for my brother, then hit a lick on my row. So we got, say from here to Cullerton behind. We got there, she'd made up for us, we'd run, catch up with her. And in that way at the end of the day, the boss would pay us the amount he's supposed to pay the children, rather than not pay us anything 'cause we couldn't keep up. And my pet story is that story because when she'd hit a lick for herself, she hit a lick for me. She carried my row. And I grew up to think that when you are strong, you're supposed to carry somebody's row, supposed to help somebody else.$$So therein lies the, the reasoning behind your own approach for never turning anybody down when they come to you for--$$It's a sin. It's a sin. It's a sin. You supposed to help. Help. I'm here on somebody's shoulder; I didn't get here by myself. Those teachers that came down from New England who were ostracized in the community because they were white folks trying to help black folks. And they would tell us I'm here to sacrifice to try to help you. And when you get in the position, you gon' try to help somebody else.

The Honorable Anthony Young

Anthony L. Young was born on December 11, 1948, in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from St. Rita High School, Young married and briefly attended several Chicago area colleges before joining the United States Air Force in 1970. During the next four years, Young attended Golden Gate University’s branch at Edwards Air Force Base, where Young was stationed. Graduating cum laude with his B.A. degree in business administration, Young returned to Chicago and enrolled at DePaul University College of Law. He graduated in 1977 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar that same year. Spending the next few years in private practice, Young participated in a Cook County program that appointed private counsel to serve as public defenders in cases, such as the trial of the Pontiac Prison inmates accused of murdering three guards. All defendants in this case were acquitted.

In 1984, Young was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. During his time there, he was a member of the Committees of Health Care, Educational Finance and Rules. For his second term, Young was appointed floor spokesman for the Democrats, and for his third term, he was appointed Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. During this time, Young mentored an ex-felon, giving him a job in his office. This man was future Representative Coy Pugh, who, thanks to Young’s guidance, would himself eventually serve in the Illinois General Assembly.

In 1992, Young left the Illinois General Assembly. He is currently a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division. He and his wife, Darthula, are the parents of two children.

Accession Number

A2000.065

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2000

Last Name

Young

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
Schools

St. Rita of Cascia High School

DePaul University

First Name

Anthony

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

PITS028

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/11/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

County circuit court judge and state representative The Honorable Anthony Young (1948 - ) was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1984. In 1992, Young left the Illinois General Assembly and became a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division. Prior to his career in politics, Young was a member of the United States Air Force and practiced law in Chicago.

Employment

Illinois General Assembly

Circuit Court of Cook County

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Anthony Young's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Anthony Young lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Anthony Young describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Anthony Young describes his relationships with his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Anthony Young talks about his childhood schooling experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Anthony Young talks about attending St. Rita High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Anthony Young talks about attending Golden Gate University

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Anthony Young talks about Judge David H. Coar

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Anthony Young describes what influenced him to pursue a career in law and politics

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Anthony Young describes how he began his political career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Anthony Young talks about the contributions he made as an Illinois State Representative

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Anthony Young describes the challenges he faced as an Illinois State Representative

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Anthony Young considers how his experiences in high school prepared him for his political career

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Anthony Young talks about his greatest achievement as an Illinois State Representative

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Anthony Young compares local, state, and federal government

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Anthony Young talks about increasing political awareness and participation in the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Anthony Young talks about education reform during his tenure as an Illinois State Representative, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Anthony Young talks about education reform during his tenure as an Illinois State Representative, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Anthony Young talks about the impact of Chicago's education reform, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Anthony Young talks about the impact of Chicago's education reform, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Anthony Young considers how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Anthony Young talks about being a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Anthony Young talks about his family and personal life

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Anthony Young shares the message he has for his children

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Anthony Young talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Anthony Young talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Anthony Young describes why his paternal grandparents fled the south and migrated to Chicago, Illinois

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Anthony Young talks about education reform during his tenure as an Illinois State Representative, pt. 1
Anthony Young talks about being a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County
Transcript
You were in the House during the--those big, heavy education battles. What was that like?$$Well Harold Washington [Mayor Harold Washington], in effect, started the reform process and those battles again, I think, they mirror a lot of battles in Springfield [Illinois] in terms of the different interests that weigh in and greatly influence what happens. And from our community standpoint, how something that is as important to our community as public education, what a really small role we play in developing the policy that affects our children more than any others. And sometimes it's held from a legislator's standpoint I believe for the most part, most of the African American legislators I saw and experienced in Springfield on issues that really obviously affect the community like the education issue, want to do "the right thing" but you know, just knowing what that is is not always that simple or that easy.$$What kinds of things were you hearing from your constituency or were you hearing anything during those pitched battles about education?$$I was hearing precious little. Very little from what I would call the community at large. Now there was a small group of west side people who had, I would call, education activists, and so I started meeting with them on a weekly basis to get their input as to what should happen. And then to a large extent, I followed their leads but I saw these teachers of course were interested from the teachers' standpoint and the other unions and the principals. So everyone with a vested interest in the system more or less weighed in in Springfield in a manner to protect their own individual interests, which didn't always translate into what was best for the children in school. The school systems have gotten a lot of praise now. I was there when the Secretary of Education for the United States called the system, the worst system in the country. And when the Republican governor said, 'No more money for Chicago schools until there's reform', or whatever reform is. And it was a position where clearly there was pressure coming from so many sources that drastic changes were about to be made in the system and we had literally hundreds of groups and organization and individuals who don't regularly lobby Springfield, who were there for that issue. And at the same time, there was, like I say, there were a few individual activists but there was nothing organized from Chicago's African American community. And so we were, as black legislators there, for the most part we had to do what we thought was best for the system based on the input we were receiving, most of which was coming from outside of our community.$Can you--we talk a few minutes about your present career as a judge? What do you like most about it and what do you like least about it?$$Well let me take them in reverse order because what I like least about it is very easy to discuss. As a judge there's a great deal of political activity I cannot involve myself in and when I'm not running for retention, I have to be retained every six years now, and when I'm running for retention there's a lot of things I can do because I have to be re-elected so to speak myself that, during all the other years I cannot do. I can't go to my block club, speak for and against candidates right now because that's political activity that a judge is supposed to be--remove himself from. And from someone who has always been somewhat of a political animal, I can't speak out in terms of just what is happening in the city of Chicago or the Daley administration or the U.S. Attorney's Office and their selective indictments. There's a lot of things that I think need to be said from a political standpoint to the people in this city that is not being said that I would like to say and that I cannot say because of the judicial cannons of ethics. We're suppose to stay about the fray so to speak.$$So that's what you don't like, you're kind of hand strung politically.$$That's what I don't like, I'm politically hand strung, exactly.$$Now what do you like?$$I like the fact that I know in a very small setting, I tremendously affect people's lives. I've gone from trying to affect all the people in the state of Illinois, is what the General Assembly does, in a very small way. With one voice out of eighteen to be in some place where there's just a small number of people who pass through my court room. But the affect I have on their lives is just absolutely tremendous. I sit in divorce court and deal with family matters and children and sometimes I feel that I turn these families, who are going through a terrible experience, some good.$$When you came up on your last term in the House, did you run again or did you just decide you were not going to run and left the House?$$I decided that I was not going to run for the House seat and I ran for the judge's seat. So I went from the House to the bench.