Honorable Juanita Kidd Stout
March 7, 1919 – August 21, 1998
The First African-American woman appointed or elected judge of a court of
Record or general jurisdiction in the United States. In 1988, when she was appointed to the Pennsylvania supreme court,She became the first African-American female justice on a state supreme court.
Juanita Kidd was born on March 7, 1919, in Wewoka, Oklahoma, the only child of two schoolteachers, Henry and Mary (Chandler). Her parents emigrated from Missouri and Mississippi to make home in Seminole County, Oklahoma. Her home was well rounded with good ethics and morals. Her parents instilled in her self confidence and that education is the key. Her ability to comprehend at an early age allowed her to begin school at the age of six and started in the third grade. She was also taught how to play the piano. She excelled in her studies. And relocated to Missouri to attend college at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. She later transferred to the University of Iowa where she earned a BA degree in music in 1939.
She moved back home to Oklahoma and was an educator. She taught grade school and also taught music at the Booker T. Washington High School. She remained in Seminole for two years. Her next teaching assignment was near Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the town of Sand Springs. While there she met and fell in love with Charles O. Stout a College Professor.
World War II broke out. Charles Stout went into the Army, and Juanita Stout decided to go to Washington, D.C.. She learned that the prominent law firm of Houston, Houston, and Hastie was seeking a secretary. She had a passion for law and when this opportunity came up that was the sign for the go ahead. She worked directly with Charles Hamilton Houston. On his first leave from the Army, he went to Washington, D.C. to renew the relationship. The couple married on June 23, 1942.
To pursue her dream of being a lawyer Juanita began legal studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.; she soon transferred to Indiana University, where Charles was working on his doctorate degree. She earned her law degree from Indiana in 1948 and a graduate law degree in 1954. In 1966, her alma mater presented her with an honorary graduate law degree. She also received an honorary degree from Drexel University and Morgan State University later.
Juanita and Charles relocated back to Washington her law career truly began. In 1950 she received employment with William Hastie a well known African American as his secretary. As he was promoted by U.S. President Harry S. Truman to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. He was first African American appellate court judge in U.S. history. William asked Juanita to accompany him to Philadelphia, and there she continued to serve as his administrative secretary.
Juanita passed the Pennsylvania bar exam in 1954 and began a private law practice. She was presented with an offer as assistant district attorney within two years of her private practice opening. She accepted the position.
Juanita showed her passion for the field and was promoted to Chief of appeals, pardons, and paroles division of the district attorney’s office.
In September of 1959, Pennsylvania Governor David L. Lawrence appointed Juanita to fill a vacancy on the municipal court, making her the first African American woman to sit on the bench in Philadelphia. Two months later, she was elected to a ten-year term. She had made history, becoming the first elected African American female judge in the United States, which she dreamed of doing as a teenager and throughout her career. She would serve a ten-year term on the municipal court and was then elected to two ten-year terms on the court of common pleas.
Juanita Stout made history a second time for in January 1988, Governor Robert P. Casey appointed her to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. When she was sworn in as an associate justice, she became the first African American woman to serve on a state supreme court. That same year, the National Association of Women Judges named Stout the justice of the year.
Juanita’s tenure on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was brief, 1988-1989, because she was close to the Commonwealth’s mandatory retirement age when appointed.
Juanita also took care of her best friend estate Sadie T. M. Alexander they were like sisters. Sadie was one of The First African American Women Awarded a Doctorate Degree in the United States of America and the First Black Woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law Sachall and Admitted to Pennsylvania Bar Association. She was also a civil rights activist.
Stout’s service as executor of the estate of her close
Juanita had a life filled with passion, and the integrity she was raised with. She respected life and did not take light to those who break the law even Juveniles. Some may not like her but they respected her for being uncompromisable standards.
On Aug. 21, 1998 died of leukemia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Philadelphia, Pa. she is laid to rest at Westwood Cemetery, Wewoka, Seminole County Oklahoma, and USA.
Her manuscripts were gifted and kept in the library of Congress.
Honorable Juanita Kidd Stout was a Passionate leader, Pioneer, Visionary, and strong activist in all genres.
Summarized Chronological List of Her Life
1939-Graduated, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
1942-Married Charles O. Stout (1907-1988)
1944-1945-Secretary to Charles H. Houston of Houston, Houston and Hastie law firm, Washington, D.C.
1949-Graduated, Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, Ind.
1949-1955-Administrative secretary to William H. Hastie, U. S. Court of Appeals
1955-1959-Private practice, Philadelphia, Pa.
1956-1959-Assistant district attorney, Philadelphia, Pa.
1959-1968-Judge, Municipal Court, Philadelphia County, Pa.
1968-1988-Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pa
1988-1989-Justice, supreme court of Pennsylvania