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Fri, 04.28.1922

Jewel Stradford, Lawyer born

Jewel Stradfrod

*Jewel Stradford was born on this date in 1922.  She was a Black politician and lawyer.

From Chicago, Illinois, she was the daughter of C. Francis Stradford, a lawyer, and Aida Arabella Cartera.   Her grandfather was Oklahoma businessman J.B. Stradford.  She graduated in 1943 from Oberlin College and received a law degree in 1946 from the University of Chicago. But afterward, she could not find work as no major white law firm would employ her, and the Chicago Bar Association would not admit her as a member.

In 1947, she went to work in the legal aid bureau of a charitable organization before going on to work for a succession of Chicago law firms and doing much trial work. From 1955 to 1958, she served as assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois during the Eisenhower Administration.  Her 1946 marriage to John Rogers ended in divorce in 1961. Later that year, she married H. Ernest Lafontant, who died in 1976.

In 1960, she seconded the nomination of Mr. Nixon as the Republican candidate for President. In the civil rights field, she was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality, an officer of the Chicago chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union. During the early 1940s, The Chicago Sun-Times reported, ''She brought change to the city by participating in sit-ins at Loop restaurants.'' In a 1991 interview, she recalled, ''Often we were spat upon and physically abused.'' From 1965 to 1967, she was on the President's Council on Minority Business Enterprise. In the early 1970's Ebony magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Black Americans.

As the George H.W. Bush Administration's coordinator for refugee affairs, she dealt with various problems. In 1989, when Moscow was permitting record numbers of Soviet Jews and Pentecostals to leave its soil, she declared that the Bush Administration wanted to ''get control over the flow'' of émigrés.

In 1990, she went to London and reaffirmed a Bush Administration pledge that the United States would help to settle half of all new Vietnamese boat people refugees who fled their country by sea and mostly went to camps in the British crown colony of Hong Kong.  In the same year, she went to the African nation of Malawi, which had been flooded with refugees from a civil war in neighboring Mozambique. She was active in the civil rights movement and was on the boards of major corporations.

Jewel Stradford died on May 31, 1997, at her home in Chicago. She was 75. The cause of death was breast cancer, family members said.

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