A mural to honor a civil rights pioneer

The unveiling of the design of a new mural honoring the life and legacy of the Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. was held last month, a collaboration between Penn Carey Law, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and The Philadelphia Citizen.

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is joining Mural Arts Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Citizen in honoring the life and legacy of Philadelphia civil rights pioneer the Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. with a new mural in West Philadelphia. The design for the mural was unveiled at its future location at a tribute kickoff party last month.

A. Leon Higginbotham.
The Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.

Higginbotham was a civil rights advocate, presidential advisor, and champion for racial equality. He served as the nation’s first African American district court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the first Black appointee at the commission level to a federal regulatory body. He also is a credited author of South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. Additionally, he was president of the NAACP Philadelphia Chapter, 1960-1962, and a member of the first Black law firm in Philadelphia—Norris, Schmidt, Green, Harris & Higginbotham. He was a longtime professor and trustee at Harvard, Penn, and Yale—and taught his unique course, Race, Racism and American Law, at Penn Carey Law.

“Judge Higginbotham was a compelling figure, a colossus in the world of law who imparted his wisdom to a generation of students at the Law School,” says Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law Ted Ruger. “I can’t think of a better way to pay homage to him than with a tribute in the neighborhood that he called home for so many years.”

Known for photographic-based works, artist Shawn Theodore was selected to create the public tribute that honors the late judge. The mural will serve as a visible reminder not only of Higginbotham’s achievements but also his influence and dedication to the West Philadelphia community; his singular voice of moral leadership will be introduced to a new generation of citizens.

Read more at Penn Law News.