Campus & Community


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The People’s Lawyer: A to Judge A. Leon Higginbotham” will be held at the Kennedy Library in Boston from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 6. The tribute will include film clips of Judge Higginbotham and a roundtable discussion by friends and colleagues, among whom will be Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, Anita Hill of Brandeis University, and Deval Patrick, former U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Higginbotham was a public service professor of jurisprudence at the Kennedy School of Government at the time of his death in December, 1998.

In 1995, Higginbotham (1928-1998) was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his life-long advocacy of civil rights. Appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the Federal Trade Commission, he was the first African-American commissioner of any Federal Regulatory Agency.

President Johnson appointed Higginbotham to the U. S. District Court and he was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Carter.

Throughout his tenure on the court, he was one of the country’s most prominent and influential black judges.

In addition to his judicial achievements, Higginbotham won acclaim for his multi-volume work, Race and the American Legal Process. He was also appointed to the Kerner Commission that investigated the causes of the urban riots of the late 1960s.

President Nelson Mandela asked him to serve as a mediator during South Africa’s first elections in which blacks could vote.