November 1991

Judge Harold A. Stevens

Judge

Judge Harold A. Stevens

Until his retirement in 1977, Judge Harold Arnoldus Stevens was one of the nation’s outstanding jurists. He was born on Johns Island, South Carolina, on October 19, 1907, the son of William F. and Lilla L. Johnson Stevens. He left Johns Island at the age of three, following the death of his father, and lived in Columbia with his mother and maternal grandparents, the Reverend and Mrs. C.H. Johnson, until his mother’s remarriage. Stevens attended Claflin College High School and earned a BA from Benedict College in 1930. Unable to attend the then-segregated University of South Carolina Law School, he went north. In 1936, he was the first Black to earn an LL.B. degree in labor law from Boston College. He was elected to the New York Assembly from 1947-1950. His elections or appointments to the New York State courts commenced after that with his election to the New York Court of General Sessions. Subsequently, he served as Justice of the New York Supreme Court; Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court and held the highest rank of any African-American in a state judicial system. Judge Stevens has served as a trustee or board member for many organizations, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Medical College, New York University Law Center Foundation, the Council for Religious and International Affairs, and the National Center for State Courts. He served as a Special Council of Religious and International Affairs, and the National Center for State Courts. He served as a Special Counsel to President Roosevelt’s Commission on Fair Employment Practices. In the 1940’s he was a counsel to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Provisional Committee to Organize Colored Locomotive Firemen. He is a veteran of World War II. The Honorable Judge has received numerous awards and honorary degrees of national and international dimension. This outstanding native of Johns Island, South Carolina, became one of this nation’s most outstanding jurists.