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Tribute to Black History Month

Black Lawyers from Michigan who played a pivotal role in advancing equal opportunity and justice for all.

Michigan's First Black Lawyers and their Contributions to History

  1. Judge Anna Diggs Taylor - First black female to be appointed to the U.S. District Court in 1979.
  2. Justice Conrad L. Mallett, Jr. - First black Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1997.
  3. Thomas R. Crisup  - Early law graduate (with Albert Burgess) from University of Michigan in 1877, in private practice 1877-1895
  4. Judge Myron H. Wahls - Appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1982.  Elected to unexpired term in 1982.
  5. Justice Dennis A. Archer - President of the State Bar of Michigan in 1984-1985, President of the American Bar Association 2003-2004, Chairman at Dickinson Wright, PLLC 2002-2009.
  6. Professor Edward J. Littlejohn - Professor at Detroit College of Law in 1970, Wayne State University Law School Associate Dean in 1976, Earned Doctorate of Law from Columbia University in 1982, Director / Founder of Damon J. Keith Law Collection at Wayne State University in 1993.
  7. Unidentified Photo:  In 1870, University of Michigan had two black graduates (the class had one one unnamed photo of a black man) Gabriel Franklin Hargo graduated from the Law Department and was Michigan's first law graduate, second in the U.S., Hargo was admitted by degree to the State Bar of Michigan in 1870.
  8. Judge/Congressman George W. Crockett, Jr. - Partner at Goodman, Crockett, Eden & Robb, the first racially integrated law firm in the U.S. in 1950.
  9. David Augustus Straker - An appellate attorney in Ferguson v Gies (1890), a renowned civil rights case. Wayne County Circuit Court Commissioner in 1892 and a legal scholar / writer of six books and numerous articles.
  10. Hobart Taylor, Jr. - Special counsel to President John J. Kennedy's EEO Committee in 1961, Associate Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1964-1965, Board Member of the U.S. Export-Import Bank from 1965-1968, Partner at Dawson, Riddell, Taylor & Davis in 1968 and the first black editor of the Michigan Law Review.
  11. Judge Lucille A. Watts - Elected first black female Judge to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 1980.
  12. William W. Ferguson - Elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1892, and 1894, University of Michigan Law School, 1897, and plaintiff in Ferguson v. Gies in 1890.
  13. Francis M. Dent - President of the Wolverine Bar Association from 1937-1939, Co-counsel in Sipes v McGhee, Companion to landmark case Shelley v Kraemer, 334 US 631 (1948).
  14. Judge Geraldine Bledsoe Ford - Elected to Detroit Recorder's Court in 1966, first black female elected Judge in the U.S., First Black Female lawyer at the Department of Justice, and Detroit Assistant Corporate Counsel in 1964, Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1962.
  15. Barbara F. Keene - First black female graduate of Detroit College of Law in 1922.
  16. Justice Otis M. Smith - Appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1961, first black Justice elected to the Michigan Supreme Court since reconstruction (1962).  General counsel and Vice President of General Motors in 1977.
  17. Professor Charles W. Quick - First black law professor in Michigan, at Wayne State University in 1958.
  18. Judge Elvin L. Davenport - Appointed to the Detroit Common Pleas Court in 1956 and elected in 1957.
  19. Judge Charles W. Jones - Michigan's first black Judge appointed to the Detroit Recorder's Court in 1950.
  20. Judge Victoria A. Roberts - First black female elected President of the State Bar of Michigan in 1996-1997.
  21. Judge Wade H. McCree, Jr. - Appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 1954, elected in 1955, and reelected in 1959.
     Federal District Court in 1961, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit in 1966 and Solicitor General of the U.S. in 1977.