Aug. 24, 1950

Credit: Wikipedia

President Harry S. Truman appointed Chicago lawyer Edith Sampson to the permanent U.S. delegation to the United Nations. She became the first Black woman to ever serve in that capacity. 

Because of financial difficulties her family faced, she had to drop out of school at age 14 and work. She later returned to school and graduated from a Pittsburgh high school. When she studied at New York School of Social Work, she received the highest grade in a criminology course, and her instructor encouraged her to pursue law. 

Working by day as a social worker, she attended John Marshall Law School, where she graduated with honors. In 1927, she became the first woman to earn a Master of Laws from Loyola University’s Graduate Law School. In 1943, she became one of the first Black members of the National Association of Women Lawyers, and four years later, she became an assistant state attorney in Cook County. 

During her three years as a U.N. delegate, she called on the Soviet Union to repatriate the remainder of its POWs from World War II. She went on to serve as the first Black U.S. representative to NATO. After this, she became a municipal judge in Chicago, the first Black woman elected as a judge in Illinois. 

Sampson supported the burgeoning civil rights movement and continuing protests: “We have convinced ourselves, because it seemed so necessary, that the battle against injustice could be won piece by piece through changes in law, through court appeals, through persistent but cautious pressures. We were mistaken. No, we were wrong. Ours was not the only way.” 

She retired in 1978 after serving 16 years as a judge and died the next year. She is now honored with a painting in the Smithsonian.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.