First Black Graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Law Posthumously Admitted to the Bar

William Herbert Johnson was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1875. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Boston University and then served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War. He then returned to his home town to enroll in the College of Law at Syracuse University.

Johnson earned his law degree in 1903. He was the first African American to graduate from the College of Law at Syracuse University.

Despite his credentials, Johnson was not admitted to the New York State Bar Association because of the color of his skin.

Johnson died in 1965 at the age of 90. Despite the fact that Johnson was not a lawyer, the minority bar association of Central New York was thereafter named the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association in his honor. The College of Law at Syracuse University also established an annual award that bears his name.

Recently, Johnson was posthumously admitted to the New York State Bar Association in a ceremony at the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse. This honor was bestowed 116 years after Johnson graduated from law school.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

HBCUs and the Olympics: From London 1948 To Paris 2024

Before the racial integration of southern state universities, Black athletes from HBCUs had tremendous success in track and field events at the Olympic Games.

Four HBCUs Receive Funding to Revitalize On-Campus Buildings Designed by Black Architects

Meharry Medical College, Howard University, Morehouse College, and Virginia State University have received grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revitalize historical on-campus buildings designed by Black architects.

Featured Jobs