Black History: Jane Matilda Bolin

Day 7 of 28 of Black History Month. I really love the Black History stories of trailblazers. Today is one of them. I enjoyed drawing her.

While attending Wellesley College, Jane Matilda Bolin faced overt racism and social isolation yet she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1928 and was officially recognized as one of the top students in her class. She went on to attend Yale Law School, still facing social hostilities, yet graduated in 1931 to become the first African-American woman to earn a law degree from the institution.

After getting married in 1933 and moving to NYC, she campaigned unsuccessfully for state assembly seat on the Republican ticket. However, she became the first African American woman to take on assistant corporate counsel work for New York City.

When she was 31, she was called to appear at the World’s Fair before Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who swore her in as a judge (unbeknownst to her). So on July 22, 1939, Bolin made history as the first African-American female judge in the United States.

She was a thoughtful and conscientious judge and was credited for various changes in segregationist policies in the system such as removing skin-color based assignments for probation officers.

She was reinstated for 3 terms, retiring at age 70. She died in Long Island City, Queens, New York, on January 8, 2007, at the age of 98.

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