Despite Racism, She Became A Pioneering Judge

Jane Bolin
Shonda Buchanan
February 14, 2021

Growing up, Jane Bolin was disgusted by pictures of lynchings she saw in The Crisis Magazine - and vowed to help build communities where Black people could be safe. 

She knew what she wanted to do - become a lawyer! Then she could have the power to make real change. But white authorities at her school didn’t see it that way.

She exited the guidance counselor’s office and slammed the door behind her. She couldn’t believe the white woman had scoffed at her dreams - but in doing so, the counselor had ignored her track record of overcoming obstacles.

Bolin was only attending Wellesley College, after all, because Vassar refused to admit Black people. And when white students at Wellesley discriminated against her and the only other Black student, they moved off campus and kept up their studies. 

So she wouldn’t quit now.

After graduating, she applied to Yale Law School despite her counselor’s lack of faith, becoming the first Black woman to graduate, in 1931, and eventually the first Black woman judge in the country! But this was only the beginning. 

Bolin went on to work on countless cases that benefited our community.

If we’re committed to creating strong Black communities, and never let white naysayers discourage us, we can empower our people and become role models for the next generation. 

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