In 1979, Anna Diggs Taylor became the first black woman judge to be appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Nineteen years later, she became the first black woman Chief Judge for that circuit as well.1
Taylor had great difficulty obtaining her first job as an attorney for the Office of Solicitor for the U.S. Department of Labor, despite graduating form the prestigious Yale Law School in 1957. Very few opportunities existed for a black woman in law at this time. In 1961, Taylor relocated from the Washington D.C. area to Detroit, Michigan. Here she was involved in both public and private practice until her appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, on which she continues to serve. Taylor’s position has enabled her to open doors for other women and minorities to pursue and achieve their dreams. She strives for gender and racial equality in the law and currently serves on the Joint Steering Committee of the Gender and Racial Ethnic Fairness Task Forces for the Sixth Circuit.
Her success did not come easy. Taylor faced discrimination on account of her race and her sex throughout her legal career. Yet, she persevered in her uphill struggle against prejudice. Anna Diggs Taylor set a standard of excellence for the abilities and performance of women in law.
1 Interview: Anna Diggs Taylor, 2003.