James B. Parsons

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James Benton Parsons (1911 - 1993) musician, educator, lawyer and judge, from Kansas City, MO. He was the First black federal judge (Northern District of Illinois, 1961). He was also the first black to receive a lifetime appointment as a Federal District Court judge. Parsons played a crucial role in the air traffic controllers' dispute in their 1970 strike.[1]

Parson was the son of James B. Parsons (a minister) and Maggie Parsons. He attended Millikin University in Decatur, IL. In World War II, he served in the Navy.


  • Honorary degrees from Lincoln University, James Milliken University, and DePaul University Law School.
  • Citation of Recognition for Outstanding Service as Chief Judge of the District Court, Chicago Bar Association.
  • Outstanding Service Award, Chicago State University.

See also[edit]