LEON A. HIGGINBOTHAM Biography - Crimes, Laws and people


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Aloyisus Leon Higginbotham, Jr. (February 25, 1928 - December 14, 1998) was a           
prominent African American civil rights advocate, author, and federal appeals           
court judge. Higginbotham was the seventh African American Article III judge           
appointed in the United States, and the first African American judge on the             
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He               
served as Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1991.         
Higginbotham was born on February 25, 1928 in Ewing, a suburb of Trenton, New           
Jersey. His mother, Emma Lee Higginbotham, was a maid, and his father,                 
Aloyisus Leon Higginbotham, Sr., was a factory worker. Higginbotham was                 
raised in a largely African American neighborhood, and attended a segregated           
grammar school.                                                                         
Higginbotham attended Lincoln School, a segregated high school in Trenton.             
Prior to Higginbotham, no black student had been put on the academic track (which       
was a significant step towards attending college), because Latin, a requirement         
for the program, was not taught at the black elementary schools. Higginbotham's         
mother convinced the principal at the junior high school to enroll him in a             
second-year Latin course, even though he had never studied first year Latin.           
To ensure that he was able to pass the required classes, the junior high Latin         
teacher offered to tutor him at her home during the summer. Higginbotham's             
family was of modest economic means, so he worked while attending school, mowing       
lawns, shoveling snow, and working as a bus boy at the Stacy Trent hotel.               
While in high school, Higginbotham manipulated his birth certificate in order to       
get working papers at 15, a year before the law allowed, so that he could work         
in a pottery factory shoveling clay.                                                   
Higginbotham died on December 14, 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts, after suffering       
from a series of strokes. President Clinton described him as "one of our nation's       
most passionate and steadfast advocates for civil rights." Jesse Jackson               
said of Higginbotham, "What Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston             
were to the first half of this century, Judge Higginbotham was to the second           
half." Kweisi Mfume said "The world has lost one of its finest, most pre-eminent       
jurists of our times. His work is a reflection of both his deep passion for             
civil rights and his legendary pursuit of justice and equality for all Americans."