MARCH 26, 1937

William H. Hastie

President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed William H. Hastie as the first Black federal magistrate. 

Hastie served as a judge in the Virgin Islands before becoming dean of the Howard Law School in 1939. Two years after being appointed to aid Secretary of War Henry L. Stinson in reforming the military’s segregationist policies, Hastie resigned from the position to protest the “reactionary policies and discriminatory practices.” 

In 1949, President Harry Truman appointed him judge of the Third United States Circuit Court of Appeals, making him the first Black American to be appointed as a federal appeals court judge. After leaving the bench, he aided Thurgood Marshall in the NAACP’s groundbreaking litigation.

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