William Herbert Johnson, the first African American graduate of Syracuse Law School in 1903, was unable to gain admission to the New York State Bar due to racial injustice. That injustice was recently addressed by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which admitted Mr. Johnson to the profession in a ceremony at the Onondaga County Courthouse. The admission ceremony was held on Friday, October 18, 2019. Several members of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission were in attendance, including: Hon. Shirley Troutman, Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, and Co-Chair of the Commission; Honorable Vanessa E. Bogan, Syracuse City Court; and Lenora B. Foote-Beavers, Esq. (Buffalo City Court Judge-Elect). "Because William Herbert Johnson dared to pursue a career in law, he paved the way for other African-Americans,” Justice Troutman said.
Remarks by Justice Shirley Troutman, Appellate Division, Fourth Department – Picture courtesy of Syracuse University
Photo: In the front row: Presiding Justice Gerald J. Whalen, far left, and the Clerk of the Court, Mark W. Bennett, far right, flank Mr. Johnson’s grandchildren.
In the back row are Appellate Division Justices John V. Centra, Edward D. Carni and Shirley Troutman
Picture courtesy of Syracuse University