UW Law Library Celebrates Black History Month

In observance of Black History Month this February, the UW Law Library celebrates the accomplishments of Black people in the legal community.

Photo of Macon Bolling AllenMacon Bolling Allen

Born free as Allen Macon Bolling in Indiana in 1816, Macon Bolling Allen taught himself to read and write and worked as a schoolteacher as a young man. He worked as a law clerk before passing the bar exam in Maine in 1844, becoming perhaps the first Black person licensed to practice law in the United States. He later served as a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts and a probate judge in South Carolina.

Sources: African American RegistryWikipedia

Photo Credit: African American Registry


Photo of William H. Hastie, Jr.William H. Hastie, Jr.

The namesake of the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Hastie Fellowship, William H. Hastie, Jr. was a lawyer, teacher, jurist and civil rights advocate who was a strong advocate for high-quality legal education. After graduating first in his class at Amherst College, he obtained his law degrees at Harvard University.  During his long career, he served in the federal judiciary, as Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, and as Dean of the Howard University School of Law.  

Sources: University of Wisconsin Law SchoolWikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)


Photo of Constance Baker Motley.Constance Baker Motley

Constance Baker Motley was the first Black woman to become a federal judge in the United States, and an influential and successful lawyer in the civil rights movement.  As a staff member and associate counsel for the NAACP, she prevailed in nine civil rights cases she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  She was later appointed to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where she served for over twenty years.

Sources: Encyclopaedia BrittanicaLos Angeles Sentinel

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Sentinel


Photo of Mabel Watson Raimey.Mabel Watson Raimey

Mabel Watson Raimey was the first Black woman to attend Marquette University Law School. In 1984 she was asked about how she had been treated at Marquette because of her race. She answered, “Nobody asked me [and] I never told.” In 1927, she became the first Black woman to practice law in Wisconsin. The next Black woman to enter the Wisconsin Bar—Vel Phillips—wouldn’t do so until 1951.

Source: Wisconsin Women Making History

Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison News


Photo of Vel Phillips.Vel Phillips

The first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Vel Phillips (UW Law 1951) served as alderperson and judge in Milwaukee and as Secretary of State of Wisconsin. As alderperson, she proposed a fair housing law which passed after six years of advocacy. She was active in the civil rights movement throughout her life.

Sources: Wisconsin Alumni AssociationWisconsin Historical Society, 

Photo Credit: Flickr (Voces de la Frontera)


Photo of Lloyd A. Barbee.Lloyd A. Barbee

Lloyd Augustus Barbee (UW Law 1956) was a legislator and civil rights activist who led the effort to desegregate the Milwaukee Public School system. He served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1965 to 1977. Barbee filed and won a federal lawsuit Amos et al. v. Board of School Directors of the City of Milwaukee, which was appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in Milwaukee integrating their public schools.

Source: Wisconsin Historical Society

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  


Photo of Geraldine Hines.Geraldine Hines

Geraldine S. Hines (UW Law 1971) had a long career as a civil rights lawyer before entering the Massachusetts state judiciary.  At UW Law School, she was active in the Black student movement. As an attorney, she worked in prisoner’s rights litigation and discrimination in education for thirty years. In 2001, she was appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court, followed by appointments to the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Source: Wisconsin Alumni Association

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Alumni Association


Photo of Patricia Banks.Patricia Banks

Patricia Banks (UW Law 1972) practiced law for over 20 years, before her 1994 election to a judgeship for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Her private practice focused on elder law and elder abuse. She served as a trial judge in the Domestic Relations and Law Divisions prior to her appointment as the founding Presiding Judge of the Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies (ELMR) Division in 2010. In 2017, she came out of retirement to serve as the interim chief administrator of the Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability.


Photo Credit: WTTW


Photo of Jim Martin.Jim Martin

A standout athlete in high school and college, Jim Martin (UW Law 1977) taught and coached at the high school level and then was an assistant coach for the UW football team from 1970 to 1974. Following law school he served as Madison Assistant City Attorney and then City Attorney.  In 2003, he was appointed as a Dane County Circuit Judge, where he served until his retirement in 2009. A strong believer in community service throughout his life, he volunteered with many legal, sports, and child welfare organizations.

Sources: University of Wisconsin-Madison NewsChannel 3000

Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison News


Photo of Nia Trammell.Nia Trammell

Nia Trammell (UW Law 1998) was born in Nigeria and raised in Madison after her family relocated so her father could attend UW-Madison. She obtained both her undergraduate and law degree from UW-Madison and worked for nine years in commercial litigation with Michael Best & Friedrich.  In 2007 she continued her family’s tradition of civil service by taking a position as Administrative Law Judge for the State of Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Division.  She also served as Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services before being appointed as a Dane County Circuit Court Judge in 2020.

Sources: Wisconsin Alumni AssociationMadison365

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Alumni Association


Photo of Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

A professor of law at Columbia and UCLA, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw developed the theory of intersectionality and also was one of the founders of critical race theory. She writes and speak actively in these areas as well as on civil rights, Black feminist legal theory and race and gender equality.  She co-founded African American Policy Forum to bring together academics, activists and policy-makers to dismantle structural inequality. Crenshaw received her JD from Harvard and LLM from the University of Wisconsin, where she served as a Hastie Fellow. 

Sources: Columbia Law SchoolUCLA LawAfrican American Policy Forum

Photo Credit: Columbia University News