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The Honorable Alford Dempsey, Jr.

County Superior Court Judge Alford J. Dempsey, Jr. was born on March 19, 1947 in Atlanta, Georgia to his parents Alford J. Dempsey, Sr. and Maenelle Dempsey. His father served in the U.S. Army and was assigned to General Eisenhower's honor guard in Europe after World War II. While growing up, Dempsey wanted to join the military to emulate his father. His mother was an educator who worked for the State of Georgia’s Department of Education, developing schools in African American communities throughout Georgia. In 1965, Dempsey graduated from New Hampton School, a boarding school in New Hampshire where he played football, basketball, and baseball. Dempsey entered Columbia University that same year as a pre-med student. While at Columbia, Dempsey participated in the 1968 student protests. He later transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta where he graduated with honors with his B.A. degree in economics in 1972 and in 1976, Dempsey earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.

Dempsey began his legal career working on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. He later became assistant city attorney for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Law. In 1992, Dempsey was named judge of the Magistrate Court of Fulton County/State Court in Atlanta. He was appointed by Fulton County State Court Chief Clarence Coopers. In 1995, Dempsey was then appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court by Governor Zell Miller where he presided over civil and felony criminal cases. Dempsey was also instrumental in the development and implementation of the Fulton County Family Court. Dempsey has presided over many high profile cases throughout his career including the case involving the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and allegations of misspending by its leadership.

Dempsey has served as a member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the American Judges Association, the American Judicature Society, the Atlanta Bar Association (Past Chair Judicial Section), the Bleckley Inn of Court, the Gate City Bar Association (Immediate Past Chair Judicial Section), and the National Bar Association.

Dempsey has also been active in numerous community organizations including serving as the District Chair of the South Atlanta District of the Boy Scouts of America, a Board member and past president of the Board of Carrie Steele-Pitts Home and a Board member of Sisters By Choice, Inc.

Alford J. Dempsey, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 20, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.019

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/20/2011

Last Name

Dempsey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

J.

Schools

Oglethorpe Elementary School

Washington High School

New Hampton Community School

Columbia University

Morehouse College

Harvard Law School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Alford

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

DEM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

If washing don't get you, the rinsing sure will.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/19/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Snapper (Twice-Baked)

Short Description

County superior court judge The Honorable Alford Dempsey, Jr. (1947 - ) has been the presiding judge of the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia and was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Fulton County Family Court.

Employment

City of Atlanta Deparment of Law

Magistrate Court of Fulton County/State Court Presiding Judge

Superior Court of Fulton County

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alford Dempsey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey relates stories from his father

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey talks about his father's education and career in the U.S. Military

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey discusses his father's experience with segregation in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey talks about his mother's career, educational background and mother's side of the family in Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alford Dempsey describes his maternal family in Noonan, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey describes his parents' marriage and his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about his birthplace, his adopted sibling, and the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey describes the neighborhood where he spent his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey talks about the Scott family, owners of the Atlanta Daily World, as well as his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey describes his family's church, First Congregational Church in Atlanta, and his activities as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey talks about his participation in sports and his experience attending Washington High School and New Hampton Boarding School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about the New Hampton Boarding School in New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey talks about his student activities and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey describes his experience at the New Hampton Boarding School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey discusses how he chose Columbia University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey describes his difficulties as a student at Columbia University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about his academic performance and student activities

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey describes the 1968 Columbia University student protest

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey describes the differences between the two 1968 Columbia student protests

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey describes his band, the Soul Syndicate, and the famous musicians he met in New York and Atlanta

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey recalls his time working at the Bird Cage Restaurant and Lounge in Atlanta

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey discusses meeting his wife, Colleen

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey talks about leaving Columbia University to attend Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey describes his time between graduating from Morehouse College, and attending Harvard Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey talks about his twin daughters, Audrey and Angela, and his grandchildren

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alford Dempsey discusses attending Harvard University Law School and his job search

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alford Dempsey describes his work for the Atlanta City Attorney's Office

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey discusses the Minority and Female Business Enterprise Program and Maynard Jackson's impact as Mayor of Atlanta

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about the Atlanta Child Murders in 1979 and his son Alford James Dempsey, III

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey describes his work for the City of Atlanta, teaching at Atlanta University and his private practice

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey discusses his appointment to the magistrate court of Fulton County, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey talks about leaving the City Attorney's Office and his relationship with Hamilton E. Holmes

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey describes his experience as a judge in the Fulton County Superior Court

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about the Olympic bombing in Atlanta and the events of September 11, 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey discusses his wife's battle with breast cancer

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alford Dempsey describes his work with the organization, Sisters by Choice

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alford Dempsey describes his life and projects after the death of his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alford Dempsey describes the Brian Nichols courthouse shooting incident in Atlanta

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alford Dempsey continues his discussion of Atlanta's Brian Nichols

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alford Dempsey talks about his board affiliations, public service and charitable organizations

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alford Dempsey discusses his legacy, goals and objectives

Teri L. Jackson

State superior court judge and county attorney Teri L. Jackson was born in 1957 to Beatrice and Alson Jackson in Berkeley, California, where she grew up with her sister, Portia Collins. After watching the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, she developed an interest in the justice system. Jackson graduated from Jefferson High School at the age of sixteen and began her studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned her B.A. degrees in politics and history in 1977. She then went on to earn her J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1980.

Upon passing her bar exam, Jackson was hired as a deputy district attorney of San Mateo County, where she works as a trial attorney. Three years later, she began work as a prosecutor for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, serving in the domestic violence unit, the felony charging unit, and the felony sexual assault unit. Throughout her career, Jackson has worked to combat domestic abuse in the Bay Area. In 1988, she became the first person to successfully introduce expert testimony regarding elder abuse syndrome in a court case. In 1995, she co-founded the First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), a rehabilitation course for individuals arrested for their involvement with prostitution. The program was replicated in other American cities within years of its founding. Jackson became the first woman to head up a homicide unit in the state of California upon her promotion to head district attorney’s homicide unit in 1997.

After working in private practice with the law firm, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, Jackson was appointed to Superior Court Judge of California for the County of San Francisco in 2002. She was the first African American woman to serve in this position. She worked with an assortment of cases, including litigation in employment, trade secrets, the environment, real estate, and bankruptcy. Jackson has worked to increase the number of minorities working within the legal system, serving as an adjunct law professor at Hastings School of Law. Jackson is the recipient of the 2006 Rosina Tucker Award from the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the 2007 Community Service Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

Jackson is married to Imro Shair-Ali.

Teri L. Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.007

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/6/2011

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Schools

University of California Santa Cruz

Georgetown University Law Center

First Name

Teri

Birth City, State, Country

Berkeley

HM ID

JAC28

Favorite Season

None

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

If you disagree with me, take me out.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/10/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

State superior court judge and county attorney Teri L. Jackson (1956 - ) was the first African American woman appointed to Superior Court Judge of California for the County of San Francisco.

Employment

University of California, San Francisco Hastings School of Law

County of San Francisco

University of San Francisco School of Law

Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP, San Francisco

Office of the San Francisco District Attorney, San Francisco

San Francisco Law School

Office of the San Mateo District Attorney

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Teri Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Teri Jackson talks about her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Teri Jackson talks about her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Teri Jackson discusses her parents' upbringing and early adult lives

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Teri Jackson discusses her parents' marriage and decision to move to San Francisco, California

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Teri Jackson talks about her father's disposition and aspirations for his children

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Teri Jackson talks about her childhood and earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Teri Jackson talks about religion and early childhood influences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Teri Jackson talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Teri Jackson discusses her early exposure to the legal profession

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Teri Jackson talks about her school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Teri Jackson discusses early experiences with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Teri Jackson talks about recognizing a hurtful person from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Teri Jackson talks about her junior high school experience during the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Teri Jackson discusses her parents' reactions to the Civil Rights Movement and Student Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Teri Jackson talks about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Teri Jackson discusses her heroes

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Teri Jackson talks about her evolving views and extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Teri Jackson discusses choosing a legal specialization, her early legal influences and choosing a college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Teri Jackson describes her experience attending the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the important world events of 1973

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Teri Jackson talks about choosing a law school and her experience attending Georgetown Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Teri Jackson talks about her work as a Deputy District Attorney in San Mateo County, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Teri Jackson describes the challenges she faced as an African American female Deputy District Attorney

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Teri Jackson discusses her work with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and domestic violence cases

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Teri Jackson discusses prosecuting elder abuse cases and developments in domestic violence laws

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Teri Jackson discusses her opinions of the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Teri Jackson talks about her most significant cases as an Assistant District Attorney

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Teri Jackson discusses being appointed to a judgeship of the Superior Court of California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Teri Jackson talks about her experience as a judge and her judicial approach

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Teri Jackson talks about memorable cases she has tried as a Superior Court Judge

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Teri Jackson describes the impact of presiding over criminal court cases

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Teri Jackson talks about the dangers of being a judge and her judicial philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Teri Jackson discusses her career activities and accomplishments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Teri Jackson gives advice to future lawyers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Teri Jackson discusses her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Teri Jackson reflects on her career and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Teri Jackson talks about African American bar associations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Teri Jackson talks about her family and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Teri Jackson talks about her father's disposition and aspirations for his children
Teri Jackson discusses her work with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and domestic violence cases
Transcript
So did he have relatives out here already?$$No, it was just kind of the thing, it was the black migration from the South. Let me back up a little bit too. My dad [Alson Jackson] came back with his brothers and a lot of them from World War II. My father talked about growing up in the south and his relatives said he had to leave. Cause they didn't think my father was going to live. My father was a very outspoken man. And the, the segregation--I mean this is, if you can think of something worse than Jim Crow. That--we were talking about Louisiana and during the time of my father's and my mom's upbringing. And Daddy often told me the story when he, when he went off to college, he didn't think that white people could be just. Because what he had experienced being a young African American man in the south. And he went to Southern [University, Louisiana] and one of the first classes, it was a literature class, and he read this book by this as he said, a great author, William Shakespeare. And the first story he read out of William Shakespeare was the 'Merchant of Venice'. And then he realized that not all white people were wrong or bad. He realized that there was always a struggle for good and evil and that his experience in Louisiana should not reflect on everybody. And another thing that Daddy learned from that book of the 'Merchant of Venice', is that there was a woman lawyer named Portia. And he said if he should ever have a daughter, she was going to be named Portia and she was going to be a lawyer. Now you look at my name, it's Teri. My older sister is named Portia. And my father always had plans. Survive World War II, take his education and to become a teacher, marry the homecoming queen, have a daughter, name her Portia, she would become a lawyer and she would fight for justice. Well he survived World War II, he did get his degree from Southern. But his Southern [University] education because it was from a black college, did not translate for him to be a teacher in California. And the only way he could be a teacher and to realize his dream to teach geography, was to go back and do another four years and my father said no. He was a very proud man. His degree in his mind was just as good as anybody else's. So he did not fulfill that part of the dream, but he did marry the homecoming queen, he did have a daughter named Portia, and Portia hated law. And my name Teri, is named after my sister's imaginary friend. She was four years old, she could spell Teri with to Rs, and I became the lawyer. And it, it was very interesting because my father did everything to make, to encourage my sister Portia to be a lawyer. My mother was on this master plan. Once my father said I want to do this, my mom [Beatrice Jackson] was the implementer, implementer. So what my mom would do was have Portia sit down and watch all the Perry Mason shows, the "Young Defenders", anything that had anything to do with law, they wanted--they put that poor little child in front of the TV set and made her watch TV that dealt with lawyers. She would--they would not allow her to watch "Dennis the Menace" because they said she was so bad, that she didn't--they didn't want her to get ideas. So it didn't work. I was born, not that I was an afterthought, but the whole focus was Portia to become a lawyer. And then the movie came out 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. My father and mother had this plan that okay, we're going to take Portia off to go see this movie 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and she'll realize her destiny. They couldn't find a babysitter for me cause I was about four or five years old when the movie came out. But they assumed that I would go to the movie, fall asleep and Portia would realize her destiny. Portia fell asleep, I watched the movie, I walked out of the theater and my mom said that I looked up at my dad and mom and said I want to be Atticus Fench. I want to be a lawyer, and I want to fight for justice. And the rest was history. And my--$$How old were you$$About four or five years old.$$Four or five.$$And I wanted--I saw an injustice. A man wrongly accused, a man wrongly convicted and ultimately died for something he didn't do. And I wanted to be a part of a system where I could make a difference. And what struck me most was--there were two scenes that struck me most about "To Kill a Mockingbird". Was when Atticus Fench walked out of the courtroom and everyone stood up who--in the balcony. And I remember those balconies when I would go down and visit my relatives in Louisiana when we would go to the movie theaters and we would have to go to the balcony. I remember that vividly. But when the minister turned to Scout and said stand because a great man is walking by, because he made an impact on these people. Another thing that was always in his, in my mind ever since I saw that movie was when the judge read the verdict, or the verdict was read and the judge stormed off the bench and slammed the door. I remember saying to my mom, why couldn't that judge--he is the judge, why couldn't he do something? Why did he just walk off the bench? He knew it was wrong. I was able to pick that up. And that has always been my guiding force of why I wanted to be a lawyer, and I guess ultimately to be a judge.$Okay now San Francisco, District Attorney's Office, 1984, okay. Okay now you were recruited?$$I was recruited by Arlo Smith. He wanted, he knew my interest in domestic violence cases, and the laws were just start--there were--I shouldn't even say laws. There was an awareness that these cases should be treated like crimes, like every other crime, and that this is not something that happens between two loving, consenting adults. It is something that needed to be dealt with and it was a big, passionate interest of mine.$$Let me ask you this: And I don't know how this plays out in the Bay area [California], but in Chicago [Illinois] there's a, a women's organization called Southwest Women Working Together. It was formed around the issue of domestic violence. It was formed by the wives of Chicago Police Officers.$$Interesting.$$Yes, who themselves were--$$Victims of domestic violence.$$Yes. That was (unclear) actually stuck, you know, and stayed in existence. It still exists.$$Well the organization here in San Francisco and that's the Family Violence Prevention Fund, many of those women were either victims of domestic--when I say victims, but their partner or spouse was battering them, or they grew up in domestic violence environments. And so that's what started here in San Francisco and became nationally recognized. And there were a group of us. One now is the DA [District Attorney] over in Alameda County, [California] Nancy O'Malley. There was a woman by the name of Pierce who's a DA, and she still is down here in Santa Clara [California]. And several people in southern California. We were kind of the California advocates as prosecutors in the area of domestic violence and domestic violence prevention. And I'm very proud of many of the laws that are here in California, I was involved in them. Testifying, writing them, implementing them, teaching. When the Violence Against Women Act took place, I was called upon to lecture around the country in how to effect prosecution and how to set up a Domestic Violence Unit in various DAs offices. And I do a lot of training with the police departments all over the country.$$Okay. How did things change?$$Oh, God.$$--the training and the laws.$$When I first--this is how even though my court that I sit on, and a judge who was well respected, who's now since passed. When domestic violence cases, when we were taking an active, you know, had a unit and we were pursuing these cases, I'll never--and it would take a great deal to convince a person of domestic violence to come and testify. To testify against this person who you've entrusted your life with, who you've shared a bed with, meals and so forth and sacrificed for. And now you're testimony may, I won't say responsible, but it will have a factor in whether or not this person goes to prison or not. And so it took a lot. Very fragile souls. And I'll never forget I just got this woman convinced to come in, in fact I, I used to go and pick them up and bring them to court. And she was crying. And I had to get--and she was just composed and I said don't worry. We're in there, the court, judges, we're going to all be there to protect you. Just tell the truth. So here she is, she's a little behind me. And I'll never forget the judge yells out, courtroom full of people, "Oh here comes Teri Jackson and her debutant." That was the attitude when we first started prosecuting domestic violence cases. Judges hated it. And I'll never forget another judge said if two adult people want to beat their brains out at their home, why do we need our criminal justice system involved? So when you're telling me that the domestic violence awareness and the organization started in Chicago by women who were officers of domestic violence, I am not surprised. Because people felt that when an officer arrives on the scene, just take that battering partner out of the house, walk him around the block, and bring him back home. Walking that person around the block only meant you're sobering him up, so therefore he can hit her more, you know. So I'm very happy that we made it a recognized crime. It's always been a crime, but a recognized crime. And we've even gone one step further. California was one of the first to acknowledge domestic violence partners, same sex partners. That this is just as prevalent in same sex relationships as in heterosexual relationships. And I'm very proud that we were able to get a voice for those who are in those battering or troubling situations.$$So it really changed the attitude, I mean police can no longer say that someone being battered or beaten to a pulp in their house is okay as long as somebody, they're married to or going with is doing this to them?$$Oh, yeah. To get that--and not only the police get, society get the courts. I mean I remember my first jury trial. There is no question. You know, here are the photographs, just getting jurors convinced that this is a crime, and get them to talk about it. And you know now, more and more people are forthcoming and said I grew up in a household of domestic violence, or I have heard of it. People didn't talk about that in '84 [1984]. You know I had a case where the young lady said the reason I didn't report it because I saw my mother being beaten, I saw my grandmother being beaten. I just thought it was a way of life. I've also when I was a prosecutor, saw the consequences of children growing up in households of domestic violence. Had a very unfortunate case where this young kid saw his mother being beaten, not by one, but by several men in her life. But the last one, this one, this child trusted this man cause he had been in his life the longest. And he turned around and beat, had beaten his mother and he was only 11 years old. He felt helpless. The man was convicted and this child would go and visit him in, in prison. And it only--what happened was this child then turned eighteen and he was only visiting him, this batterer, the one, last one who had battered his mother in prison just to keep tabs on him. And on the first day that the man was released, this child had him come to a certain location in San Francisco and had ambushed him and killed him. And that is the impact. This child felt, and I remember in his interview, watching his tape, he said I was helpless, I couldn't help my mother and now I could. But it was the wrong way.$$Yeah this is a serious matter, domestic violence. So, so what are the--what do you think is the most significant legislation or action that you took part in?

The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson

Federal district court judge Thelton Eugene Henderson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on November 28, 1933 to Wanzie and Eugene Marion Henderson. Henderson grew-up in the South central area of Los Angeles, California in an all-black neighborhood. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles and was the recipient of a football scholarship to attend the University of California at Berkeley. In 1956, Henderson graduated with his B.A. degree in political science. Later, in 1962, Henderson earned his J.D. degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and was admitted to the California Bar in January of 1963.

Both his high school counselor and football coach was alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley and encouraged him to attend their alma mater. While there, he became interested in African American history and helped to form an organization that catered to African American students. After graduating from college, he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served as a clinical psychology technician. Thereafter, he earned his law degree and was hired as an attorney with the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice, where he served from 1962 to 1963. During his tenure with the Justice Department, Henderson investigated patterns of discriminatory practices in the South. Returning to Northern California, he practiced general law in private practice and was the directing attorney of the East Bayshore Neighborhood Legal Center in Palo Alto. From 1968 to 1976, Henderson was the assistant dean of the Stanford University School of Law. There, he helped increase minority enrollment to twenty percent of the student body and taught law classes.

In 1977, Henderson became a founding partner of Rosen, Remcho and Henderson in San Francisco, where he remained until 1980. He also taught administrative law and civil procedure at Golden State University of Law in San Francisco. In 1980, Henderson was appointed to the United States Federal Court and became the Chief Judge of the United States District of Northern California in 1990, thus becoming the first African American to reach that position. In 1998, he became Senior U.S. District Judge. Henderson was the recipient of the 2003 American Inns of Court Circuit Professionalism Award for the Ninth Circuit in recognition of a senior practicing lawyer or judge whose life and practice serves as an example for others.

He is divorced and has one son. He resides in Berkeley, California and enjoys fly-fishing.

Thelton Henderson was interviewed by The HistoryMaker on April 7, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.044

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2004

Last Name

Henderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Eugene

Schools

Thomas Jefferson High School

University of California, Berkeley

Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California

First Name

Thelton

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

HEN01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fishing

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/28/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Federal district court judge The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson (1933 - ) was the first African American Chief Judge of the United States District of Northern California, and has served as the Assistant Dean of the Stanford University School of Law.

Employment

United States Department of Justice

East Bayshore Neighborhood Legal Center

Stanford Law School

Rosen, Remcho & Henderson

Golden Gate University School of Law

United States District Court, Northern District of California

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about growing up in South Central Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his and his family's relationship to church

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences at Trinity Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his childhood dreams and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his junior high and high school experiences in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes how he applied to the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about playing baseball and football while attending Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson recalls his academic experience at Jefferson High School and in his pre-college courses at University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his friends at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his academic plans for attending the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his experiences at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his courses at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about playing football at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his timeline following his 1956 graduation from the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his experiences at Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkley School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the racial demographics of Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about passing the State of California bar examination

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his employment expectations following Boalt Hall, the University of California Berkeley School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes how he came to work for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his field experiences working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his field experiences working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson explains how the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department built a case for voting discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on his outlook on race, segregation and discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences interacting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his resignation from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on his outlook on his life and law career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his relationship with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers the 16th Street Baptist church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson reflects upon leaving the U.S. Justice Department in 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his career path following his work for the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his relationship with Medgar Evers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers driving James Baldwin from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his career path following his work for the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences working as a lawyer in Oakland, California in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working as assistant dean at Stanford Law School in Stanford, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working in a law practice with Joe Remcho and Sandy Rosen in the late 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson explains how he was appointed as a federal judge for the Northern District of California in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his work on the appeal for United States v. Banks and Means (Wounded Knee)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the Krause v. Rhodes appeal in 1977 and the values of his law firm, Rosen, Remcho and Henderson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about applying to be a federal judge for the Northern District of California, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about applying to be a federal judge for the Northern District of California, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his academic plans for attending the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California
The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers driving James Baldwin from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama
Transcript
All right. So, you've graduated from high school [Jefferson High School, Los Angeles, California] and you've gone to summer school. You're going to enter college. Did you have any i- what were you going to study? What were you plans when you went to college?$$When I went to college, as I said, I think, by then I knew I was gonna be a lawyer and not a doctor. And, I think those were the two choices I saw. And, I was willfully prepared to go to college. My mother--nobody in my family had ever gone to college, and I think, most of them had not graduated from high school. So, I was going in cold, not knowing what it was other than it sounded good. So, that the first day at Cal in registration, they had it outside, and you'd go to tables and they'd have letters of E to H or something. And, you'd get your cards and you'd fill them out. And, finally I got to a table and one of the cards said--one of the students that they'd hired to help with his process said, "What's you major?" She was filling it out. And, I said, "Law." And, I still remember this sort of condescending look, "Law is a graduate major. You're an undergraduate." And, I tell you, I didn't know the difference at that point, between graduate and undergraduate. I--and, I didn't know what my major was. So, she said, "Well, come back when you figure out your major." And, I walked off totally bewildered. And, at this time, if you're--University of California [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California], one of the biggest schools in the nation at the time, had about less than twenty blacks going. So, I wandered around, I found one, and another one of lucky strokes of mine, I ran into Julius Devereaux. And, I said, "Well, what's your major?" And, he said, "Poli sci." And, I said, "What's poli sci?" He said, "Political science." And, he told me a little about it. And, I went back, and my major was political science. And, I've always thought over these years, he had a brother named Joe Devereaux who was an engineering major (laughter). And, I've often wondered if I'd bumped into Joe, would I had been an engineering major. I mean, I was that naive. I was, in fact, I'll tell you another story. Cal was so big, when I went to summer school, the football team registered me and did all of that for me and I lived in a boarding house there near campus. And, the first day, our class was at 101 Dwinelle. And, I went around looking for Dwinelle Street. I thought that was an address. I was--it's a miracle that I'm sitting here and you're interviewing me, and I survived all of that ignorance I brought to college. But, anyway, that's the way I started off.$There's another story, and tell me if these war stories are getting boring but, there's another story related to an [U.S.] Air Force base. James Baldwin was in Selma [Alabama], and I had met him in Birmingham when he was at the A.G. Gaston [Motel, Birmingham, Alabama]. And then things, the action moved to Selma and he was there. And, I was in the [U.S.] Post Office building where the federal presence was. And, I heard on the radio there, and I was the only one in there then, a two way radio conversation in which they were talking about Baldwin. And, I heard them say, "Yeah, we're gonna get that black nigger. He thinks he's," you know, "down here to tell us what to do." So, and, I don't know who it was, but I went out and I told him. I said, "Hey, I just heard this, and I think you better be careful." And, he says (makes noise). And, he says, "I better get out of here." The story is, I tell you it's absolutely true, but (laughter). So, he had driven there with a SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] worker who had this red convertible and, you know, I said, "No. I don't think you ought to be going in a red convertible." We talked, and we talked, and then finally, I said, "Well, look," it was getting late, "I'm going back to Birmingham, ride with me." And, so, we went and got in my car, and his brother, David [Baldwin], got in and this SNCC worker. And, I--he left his car there, as I recall. We got in the car and I was telling them all the things I had learned. "If--be careful, it's getting dark. If you see a car that seems to be following us, let me know. And, if a car comes up and it looks like it's gonna pass, watch out." Because sometimes they do the drive by. And, I was doing all of this and he was just scared, you know, thinking. And, then I was staying at the Air Force base [Craig Air Force Base], and that's what started this story. So, I hadn't checked out. So, I went to the air force base, went in, checked out, paid my--it's great I stayed in the officer's quarter. It cost one dollar a night to stay there. And, I don't know, I think my per diem then was twenty-five dollars. I came back to Washington always with a lot of money. It was a good deal. So, anyway, checked out of the air force base, got in the car, and drove to Birmingham. And, then he thanked me. And, two stories that grow from that. One, a while later he came to, this is after I lost my job and I was in Washington [D.C.], right. He came to Washington. He was a big attraction then. He was at the height of his fame and I went to this thing that was full of people and he said, "I want to introduce my friend, [HM] Thelton [E.] Henderson who saved my life," you know, and told the story. And, said, you know, and he told the story much like I told it, and then said, "But, you know, when I started feeling safe?" Talking to the audience, and answered his own quest--he said, "When he stopped at the military base and got a gun" (laughter). And, over all the years, I'd never had the nerve to tell him, I didn't get a gun (laughter).$$(Laughter).$$He thought, I had gone and got a gun and I was ready to (laughter). And, I never told him that I just got my suitcase (laughter). But, the other story that derives from that, he always said as we were driving and we got where we knew we safe, we weren't being followed, he said, he was gonna write about this incident and he had a title for it. It was gonna be called 'Flight to Birmingham.' And, the title was the irony, he said, "Last week I was in Birmingham [Alabama] and I thought that was the most dangerous place I'd ever been. And, now I'm fleeing to Birmingham." And, then he was gonna write about that, and he never did. I always looked forward to seeing him write about that incident.