Jurist considered a “trailblazer and pillar” of the community
Reverend Jesse Jackson and Bishop Tavis Grant, acting national executive director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, will honor Cook County Circuit Court Judge Arnette Hubbard on Saturday, November 26, at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, for her trailblazing legal career that has crashed several glass ceilings.
Hubbard became a lawyer in 1969 at a time when women comprised only three percent of American lawyers. She received her law degree from the John Marshall Law School and spent 28 years working as a lawyer before becoming a judge.
“Judge Arnette Hubbard is living out the judicial legacy of judges like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Illinois Appellate Court Justice Eugene Pincham,” said Grant.
“Her ascension teaches us all that there are no limits that can’t be broken as long as you are determined to keep rising up.
“As a young organizer and minister, I’ve grown and matriculated by the winds of her life living out excellence,” Grant said.
“Her demeanor of dignity and a common touch makes everyone feel respected and valued. She has been the first at so much, yet she has made a life of putting others first.”
Retired Judge Bernetta Bush also praised Judge Hubbard’s legal career and her breaking the glass ceiling for the next generation.
“She has a long and extensive career in legal and community service. She has demonstrated excellence in her performance and her dedication to the profession as well as to the African American community. Her retirement is well deserved, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Born Arnette Rhinehart in Arkansas, Judge Hubbard is an only child. It was her grandfather who planted the seed that led her to become an outstanding lawyer and judge.
“It was being in my fabric, my being, having been surrounded by so many people of vision and a thirst for education.”
She once heard her grandfather say, “It’s a shame what they did to Plessy,” Hubbard said, referring to the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Later when she became a lawyer, Hubbard said, “It seemed a way to make some headway and bring America where it ought to be.”
In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Hubbard said, “From my early childhood starting with my family, that realized equality is our birthright. Whatever I did was to add to the efforts to make that a truth in America that we are equal to all of the rights and privileges of this democracy at birth.”
When asked her feelings about Reverend Jackson’s honoring her, she said, “This recognition is an amazing honor.”
Referring to Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH family, she said they have woven a great tapestry.
“It has woven a vision, a determination, that pushes to make America what it was designed to be, to make it equal,” Hubbard said. “I am more than proud to be a thread in that tapestry woven by Reverend Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.”
Known as a trailblazer and a passionate fighter for civil and voting rights, Hubbard was the first female president of the National Bar Association, the largest organization of Black lawyers and judges and the first woman president of the Cook County Bar Association.
She became a Chicago Board of Election Commissioner and served from 1989 to 1997. It was there that she initiated “Desert Fax,” a program that enabled those serving in the military and stationed overseas to vote. In 1994, she went to South Africa in support of the first post-Apartheid election held there, and in 1995 she went to Haiti for the historic Parliamentary and local elections.
In 1997, Hubbard became a Circuit Court judge. She is currently assigned to the Law/Jury Division.