Charles Freeman, First African American to Serve on Illinois Supreme Court, Dies at 85

Charles Freeman, First African American to Serve on Illinois Supreme Court, Dies at 85

CHICAGO (AP) – The first African American to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court has died at 86.

According to a statement from the state’s high court, Charles E. Freeman passed away Monday, though it didn’t specify a cause of death.

Current Chief Justice Anne M. Burke heralded Freeman as a “trailblazer” with a sharp legal mind who broke down barriers throughout his life, adding, “he was a gentleman and a truly gracious individual. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone.”

Freeman was also the first African American to become chief justice on the court. He won election to the open seat in 1990 and retired in 2018.

He is survived by his son, Kevin Freeman, two grandchildren and a brother in Virginia.

Photo Gallery