By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council has taken a step toward renaming the city’s Criminal Justice Center in honor of the late Juanita Kidd Stout, a Philadelphia trailblazer who was first female African-American elected as a judge in the United States.
A native of Oklahoma, Stout came to Philadelphia in the 1950s and served as an assistant district attorney. In 1959 she was elected as a municipal judge.
In 1988, another first: Stout (right) became the first African-American woman to serve on a state supreme court, when appointed to Pennsylvania high court by Gov. Robert P. Casey.
Stout died in 1998.
Among those honoring her at the Council hearing today was local NAACP leader Jerome Mondesire.
“Naming the Criminal Justice Center for the first African-American woman to be elected judgeship in these United States is not just fitting, it is overdue,” he told City Council.
“Justice Juanita Kidd was an extraordinary jurist, a trailblazer for justice and equality, and a pioneer for all women,” said Common Pleas Court judge Sheila Woods-Skipper.
“Justice Stout was a classy lady, bright, charming, with a disarming smile and spine of steel,” noted Ellen Greenlee, head of the Public Defenders Association. “Though petite of stature, she was giant in our justice system.”
Final approval by Council of the name change is expected next week. After the mayor’s approval, the courthouse at 13th and Filbert Streets would be formally named the “Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.”