Black History: Special Delivery!!

Edith Sampson

Edith Sampson

Edith Spurlock Sampson (1901?-1979) was born in Pittsburgh, PA. There appears to be some discrepancy regarding her year of birth. Some reports indicate that she may have been born earlier than 1901. She was one of seven children. At the age of 14, she dropped out of school to work full time. She later returned and completed high school. She married Rufus Sampson, a field agent for Tuskegee University after her high school graduation. The two later divorced.

After working briefly, she enrolled in New York University School of Social Work. One of her teachers, George W. Kirchwey suggested she pursue a law career after being impressed with how well she did in a criminology class. She relocated to Chicago to care for two children left by her deceased sister. She attended John Marshall Law School at night and worked full time. She then enrolled in Loyola University Law School. In 1927 she would become the first woman to receive a Masters of Law degree from Loyola. Sampson then went to work for Cook County in 1927 as a probation officer and then assistant referee in the juvenile court system. In 1938 she opened her own law practice along with her second husband. She was one of the first women to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1947, she was appointed as the Assistant Prosecutor for Cook County.

1n 1950 Sampson was the first African American appointed to the permanent U.S. delegation of the United Stations. In 1961 at the age of 61, Sampson won election as a judge on the Chicago Municipal Court. With this election she would become the first African American woman in the U.S. elected to the bench by a popular vote. She retired in 1979 and died in Chicago in 1979.

Did you get a chance to check out yesterday’s post on Mabel Franks, a pioneer in figure skating?  Click the link below to view the post!

Mabel Fairbanks: African American Pioneer in Figure Skating