April 11, 1908 Jane Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, New York to parents Matilda Emery and Giaus Bolin. A top student at her high school, Jane graduated early and headed to Wellesley-College. After enrolling into college she maintained her academic excellence and managed to earn a Bachelors of Arts in 1928. After graduating from Wellesley-College she attended Yale Law School, at Yale she managed to graduate within three years despite facing racism from her peers. Her graduation made her the first African-American woman to gain a degree from Yale Law School. With her father being an attorney who was head of the Dutchess County Bar Association and owned his own practice, she was able to work with her father until she married Ralph E. Mizlelle and moved to New York.
As she settled in with her new husband she faced hard times as she pursued at state assembly seat; ten years passed until she finally became the first African-American woman to assist in corporate council work for New York City. In 1939 Bolin appeared before Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at The World’s Fair, the judge swore Bolin in as a judge as a surprise to her. Bolin made history once again; becoming the first African-American female judge in the history of the United States. Bolin used her position and influence to help the people she served; assigned to family court she helped eradicate the plight of the black kids within the juvenile system. She changed policies that segregated the children based on skin color; she also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to support the Wiltwyck School to end crime among young boys.
In 1943 Ralph E. Mizlelle died, leaving Bolin to raise her son on her own; In 1950 Bolin was remarried to Walter P. Offutt, Jr. Bolin remained a judge for 40 years and served on the board of the NAACP and the New York Urban league. At the age of 70 Bolin retired from her bench but not life, she worked as a consultant and School volunteer; she also worked on the New York Board of Regents. Bolin died on January 8, 2007 in New York leaving behind a trailblazing legacy, her legacy is one that cannot be erased from American History. She made it possible for women in the State of New York to work in law and hold positions of influence in the State of New York. She fought for the equality of black children within the New York state juvenile system. She used her intelligence and vigor to make others’ lives better; Judge Jane Bolin we stand on your Shoulders.
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