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James Parsons, The First Black U.S. Federal District Judge Was A Member of Kappa Alpha Psi

Did you know that the first African American to serve as a U.S. Federal District Judge was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi? James Benton Parsons crossed through the Alpha Mu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. at Lincoln University (MO).

James Parsons was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended James Milliken University and Conservatory of Music (B.A.) where he studied music graduated in and then went on to teach music and political science at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1934.  He then went to he University of Chicago where he received his masters and the University of Chicago Law School where he received his J.D.. He enlisted into the United States Naval Reserve in 1942 and served during World War 2. During his time in the Naval Reserves, he directed the U.S. Navy B-1 Fleet Band.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy nominated Parsons to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The U.S. Senate approved his seat and he became the first African American member of the Judicial Conference of the United States. While at the time of his appointment there were several Black federal district judges in the Virgin Islands, Parsons was the first in the continental United States with life tenure. 

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