Leadership & the Massachusetts Courts
In the 20th century, African Americans slowly assumed positions of leadership in the Massachusetts courts. In 1962, Edward Brooke was elected as Attorney General of Massachusetts, becoming the first African American in the nation to hold such a position. In 1978, the Supreme Judicial Court unanimously appointed Harry J. Elam, Sr., as the first African American Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed David Nelson to the United States District Court, making him the first African American federal judge in the Commonwealth.