Throughout Jane Bolin life she made history multiple times in her life. Bolin was the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, first Black woman to join the New York City Bar Association and the nation’s first Black woman judge. Bolin was the daughter of an lawyer and grew up admiring her father’s books while recoiling at photos of lynching’s in the NAACP magazine.
Bolin wanted a career in social justices after she graduated from Wellesley and Yale Law School she went into private practice in New York City.
In 1939, New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her a family court judge. She made headlines becoming the first Black woman. In court she didn’t wear judicial robes in court to make children feel more at ease along with committing herself to seeking equal treatment for all who appeared before her.
In an interview after becoming a judge, Bolin said she hoped to show “a broad sympathy for human suffering” according to CBS News.
Bolin served on the bench for 40 years.
“Everyone else makes a fuss about it, but I didn’t think about it, and I still don’t,” she said in 1993. “I wasn’t concerned about (being) first, second or last. My work was my primary concern.”
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