1937 March 26

William H. Hastie Appointed First African-American Federal Judge


Appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the U.S. District Court for the Virgin Islands on this day, William H. Hastie became the first African-American federal judge. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Hastie served as a solicitor in the Interior Department before being appointed a judge. He left this position in 1939 to become Dean of Howard University Law School.

Hastie took a leave from Howard University in 1940 to become an assistant to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. He resigned in protest on January 18, 1943 became Stimson refused to end racial segregation in the armed forces.

President Harry Truman in 1949nappointed Hastie to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, making him the first African-American to serve as a federal appeals judge.

Read: Gilbert Ware, William Hastie: Grace Under Pressure (1984)

Learn more about Judge Hastie: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/hastie-william-henry-1904-1976

And about other African-American judges: http://www.blackpast.org/entries-categories/judges

Learn more about African American history: Henry Louis Gates, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 (2011)

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