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 Her Battle Against Injustice

Edith Spurlock Sampson was a renowned American lawyer and judge during the mid-twentieth century. She moved to Chicago, where while working full-time during the day as a social worker, she avidly studied law at night. Sampson graduated from John Marshall Law School in 1925 winning a special dean's commendation for ranking at the top of her jurisprudence class.

During her early life, she opened a law office on the South Side, after becoming the first woman to earn a Master of Laws from Loyola University's Graduate Law School. Later, she became one of the first black members of the National Association of Women Lawyers. In 1947, she was appointed an Assistant State's Attorney in Cook County.

Sampson was a powerful public speaker, using her oritory on a world tour to advance her advocacy for better treatment of African Americans in the United States. As a result, President Truman appointed Sampson as an alternate U.S. delegate to the United Nations in 1950, making her the first African-American to officially represent the United States at the United Nations. Under President Eisenhower, she was a member of the U.S. Commission for UNESCO and later became the first black U.S. representative to NATO.

In 1962, Sampson ran for associate judge of the Municipal Court of Chicago, and easily won the election; she was the first black woman to be elected as a judge in the state of Illinois. In 1966, she became an associate judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Most of the cases that she heard were housing disputes involving poor tenants, in which she was perceived as “an understanding but tough grandmother”

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