Jewel Stradford Lafontant was a very impressive Chicagoan; throughout her life she was at the forefront of fighting segregation and the mistreatment of individuals in all forms.
Jewel Stradford Lafontant in 1946 was the first African-American woman to earn a law degree from the University of Chicago. While a student she led protests and took legal action against local restaurants that discriminated against black patrons.
She began her legal career at the Legal Aid Society. In 1963 she won a case before the Supreme Court defending her client against a forced confession while in police custody. This was one of the cases which led to the 1966 adoption of the Miranda warnings to protect the rights of the accused.
Jewel Lafontant ascended to high ranks in the US government. In 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her assistant US Attorney for the Illinois Northern District. She went on to become the highest ranking woman in President Richard Nixon's administration as US Deputy Solicitor General in 1973. In 1989 President George H. W. Bush appointed her ambassador-at-large for refugee affairs at the State Department.
Jewel Lafontant was on Ebony Magazine's list of the 100 most influential black Americans. She was also on the board of directors of several large companies and institutions. She served in leadership positions with the Chicago National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The City of Chicago honored her with Jewel Stradford Lafontant Day in Chicago September 17, 2011 on the occasion of the dedication of her honorary street sign Jewel Stradford Lafontant Way.
Jewel Stradford Lafontant-Mankarious, April 28, 1922 – May 31, 1997.
Born in Chicago
University of Chicago Law School
NYT Obituary http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/03/us/jewel-lafontant-mankarious-lawyer-and-us-official-dies.html