Edith Spurlock Sampson

In 1950, when President Harry S. Truman appointed Edith Spurlock Sampson (1901–1979—some sources say born in 1898) an alternate delegate to the United Nations, she became the first African-American delegate to the United Nations. She had earlier and later “firsts.” In 1927, she was the first woman to earn a master of law degree from Loyola University Law School. In 1964 (some sources say 1962), in Cook County, Illinois, she became the first black woman to sit as a circuit court judge. After earning her law degree, she worked for Cook County, first as a probation officer, then as an assistant referee in juvenile court. She established her own law firm in 1934 and, in 1947, was appointed assistant state's attorney for the county. As a social activist, she worked with several organizations: the Afro-World Fellowship (president), Chicago Professional Women's Club (president), Chicago Urban League, League of Women Voters, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Negro Women (chair, executive committee), South Side Boy's Club, South Side Community Center, and Women's Progressive Committee (president). She was optimistic about strides African Americans had made in the United States and was quoted in Reader's Digest (November 1986) as saying that "...the doors have not been opened, but they have been unlocked. If we press against them, they will open."

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