A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.
Aloysius Leon Higginbotham Jr.
(February 25, 1928 – December 14, 1998) was an American civil rights advocate
, historian, presidential adviser, and federal court judge
. From 1990 to 1991, he served as chief judge
of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
. Originally nominated to the bench by President Kennedy in 1963, Higginbotham was the seventh African-American Article III
judge appointed in the United States, and the first African-American United States district judge
of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
. He was elevated to the Third Circuit in 1977, serving as a federal judge for nearly 30 years in all. In 1995, President Bill Clinton
awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom
. Higginbotham used the name "Leon" informally.
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