HISTORY OF THE ILLINOIS JUDICIAL COUNCIL
On January 13, 1982, a small group of African-American judges met in Chicago, at the Community Insurance Company, to discuss problems common to black judges. This meeting, called by Judge Charles J. Durham, led to the formation of the Illinois Judicial Council. On October 12, 1983, the group held its first banquet at the Soul Queen Restaurant, installed Justice Kenneth Wilson as Chairperson, Judge Durham as Chair-Elect, Judge Everette A. Braden as Secretary and Judge Blanche M. Manning as Treasurer. The gathering was a small one, attended principally by members, their families and a few guests.
On October 18, 1988, the IJC was incorporated. The incorporators were Judges Russell R. DeBow, Marion Garnett, Glenn T. Johnson, William E. Peterson, Albert S. Porter, Lucia T. Thomas, Durham, Braden and Justice Wilson. Judges Sophia H. Hall, James L. Harris, William Sylvester White, DeBow, Peterson and Justice Wilson formed the first Board of Directors. The stated purpose of the corporation was to “enhance the image of the judiciary and to improve the quality of life in the community through educational enlightenment as to the manner in which the legal process serves the community.”
The IJC has worked to achieve that purpose. It has awarded thousands of dollars in law school scholarships to minority and needy students. The IJC annually participates with the Circuit Court of Cook County in “Law Day.” Additionally, the IJC conducts a high school essay project spearheaded, currently, by Judge Cheryl D. Ingram-Stone. For a number of years, we partnered with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to provide CHA residents with a library, camp scholarships, assistance in securing summer jobs for youth, and Christmas parties with food baskets and toys for those in need.
IJC members work with community groups such as the Cook County Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers’ Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois Judges Association, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Chicago Bar Association, and numerous other churches and civic groups presenting educational programs regarding the court system. The Illinois Judicial Council Foundation is the charitable arm of the IJC.
The IJC has grown to an organization of over 100 members. While it is primarily composed of African-American judges and judicial officers of the state, it has grown to include judges and judicial officials representing a myriad of ethnicities, as well as judges who serve on the federal bench. The IJC is proud of all of its members, but two of its members have distinguished themselves: Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman, and the current Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy C. Evans.