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Minnesota Installs First Black Chief Justice to the Supreme Court

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by Paulina Isaac

November 30, 2023

Natalie Hudson just became the first person of color and the first Black woman to serve as chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“In an age when people of color, especially (Black people), are often viewed with suspicion and seen as threats and are simply relegated to otherness, today sends a powerful message that they, too, can aspire to any ambition they hold dear,” Hudson said in a speech after taking the oath of office.

Hudson previously served as a state Supreme Court associate justice and took over the chief justice position after then-Chief Justice, Lorie Gildea, retired in October of this year. The event was held at the Minnesota History Center, with about 350 in attendance. The event was a celebration of Hudson’s historic appointment and the official swearing-in of associate justice, Karl Procaccini.

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Former assistant dean of students at the University of Minnesota Law School and longtime friend of Hudson, Vanne Owens Hayes, said, “The responsibility that comes with being a ‘first’ is to be visible and, whenever possible, to open the window of opportunity for others and keep the windows and doors open so that first does not become only or last.”

(Cover photo: Minnesota Supreme Court/Photo by Michelle Griffith)

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