Judge Cynthia Y. Cobbs, Chair
Greetings and Happy New Year!
It’s mid-January, and we are well beyond the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The familiar sights and sounds of the most celebrated day of the year are now a near distant memory. As we settle into a brand new year, I am filled with anticipation and great expectation. Expectations of making a real and sustained difference in the communities that we serve; of building upon and exploring new opportunities to engage with our youth; and, of increasing awareness of the Council’s significance in enhancing trust and confidence in the judiciary.
My exuberance for the possibilities that the New Year holds is not without regard for the
troubling and trying times that we face in our nation. Even so, the Council is undaunted; we have lost neither our focus nor our resolve. It remains our mission to enhance the image of the judiciary through the exercise of competence and compassion in the courtroom, and service to the communities in which we live. Joining us in our work are newly admitted Council members Tiana Blakely, Lloyd Brooks, Sondra Denmark, Iesha Gray, Erika Orr, Rhonda Sallee and Arthur Willis. We welcome these jurists into our ranks; we applaud them for their commitment to public service; and, we encourage their full participation as members of the Council.
In the culminating months of 2018, members of the Council bore witness to and celebrated the 100 year birthday of a Chicago icon — Professor Timuel D. Black, Jr. Although neither a lawyer nor a jurist by trade, “Tim” has been a stalwart champion in the quest for justice and equality both within and outside of Chicago’s borders. Therefore, we, the members of the Illinois Judicial Council, salute the Honorable Professor Timuel D. Black, Jr. for his valor, his scholarship and for a lifetime of extraordinary service.
We rounded out 2018 in much the same way that we did in 2017, by participating in the PUSH Excel Oratorical Contest. Once again, under the leadership of the IJC’s Judge Stanley Hill, members of the Council were enthralled by the sheer courage, poise, and dignity exhibited by Chicagoland’s youthful orators. Although much gratitude is expressed to the Council for its support of this endeavor, the Council is the grateful beneficiary of every young person’s future positively impacted by participating in the oratorical experience.
On a final note, in a few short days, here in Illinois and across our nation, we will pause as a nation to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans in our country. As we make preparation for the month long observance of Black History, we are reminded of the words of Frederick Douglass, who said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” Douglas’ words have particular significance for each member of the Judicial Council.
On January 13, 1982, a small group of African American judges met in Chicago to discuss problems common to black judges. Although we are unable to state with certainty the number of African American judges serving in Illinois courts in 1982, the history records will likely bear out that the number was something far less than great. Since the time of that small gathering of judges, African American representation in the judiciary has grown demonstrably. In recognition of the contributions of those few courageous judges who gathered in 1982, the IJC proudly presents a pictorial display which chronicles the growth of African Americans judges in Illinois’ judiciary. The display, housed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, serves as evidence of great strides toward diversity that have been achieved in our judiciary and the contributions of judges of color. The members of the Council acknowledge, with heartfelt gratitude, the struggles and the triumphs of that small band of African American judges on whose shoulders we are now honored and privileged to stand.
As I reflect on the work of the Council in 2018, I look forward to all that is possible in 2019.