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Violette N. Anderson
On this date, Violette Anderson was born in 1882. She was a Black attorney and judge/magistrate.
She was born in London, England, the daughter of Richard E. and Marie (Jordi) Neatley. When Anderson was young, the family moved to the United States, where she attended North Division High School in Chicago, graduating in 1899. She then attended Chicago Athenaeum in 1903, and soon after, she married Albert E. Johnson. Anderson was a Republican and an active Episcopalian. She worked as a court reporter from 1905 to 1920, which sparked her interest in law.
Anderson furthered her schooling at the Chicago Seminar of Sciences from 1912 to 1915, and the Chicago Law School, earning her LL.B. in 1920. She began a private practice after graduation, the first Black woman to practice law in the U.S. District Court Eastern Division. From 1922 to 1923, she served as the first female city prosecutor in Chicago. After five years of practice before the high court of Illinois, Anderson was admitted to practice for the Supreme Court of the United States, becoming the first Black woman to attain this stature. This achievement set a precedent that allowed other Black women to do the same.
Anderson also belonged to the Federal Colored Women's Clubs, was president of Friendly Big Sisters League of Chicago, First Vice-President of Cook County Bar Association, and secretary of Idlewild Lot Owners Association. In addition, she was a member of the executive board of the Chicago Council of Social Agencies. She was also the 8th Grand Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She showed her pride in them by bequeathing her summer home in Idlewild to the organization. Her life is recognized by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., every year in the month of April as "Violette Anderson Day." Violette Anderson died in 1937.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
Photo Credit: The Archon 1937, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.