The Honorable L. Howard Bennett, '50: Grandson of Slave, Broke Race Barriers in Minnesota, Minneapolis

It was a day both monumental and mundane.

The cases on the Minneapolis conciliation court docket included a furniture upholsterer accusing a client of insufficient pay. Another concerned mechanics’ work on a troublesome auto transmission. Then there was the pair of pants allegedly cleaned improperly at a city laundry.

First, though, Municipal Judge L. Howard Bennett had to contend with a finicky button on his black robe in Room 432 of Minneapolis City Hall.

“That top hole bothers me, too,” Judge Tom Bergin said, before swearing in Bennett as Minnesota’s first black judge on Jan. 6, 1958. “May you wear the robe with pride, dignity and honor.”

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