Retired Judge Jean Murrell
Capers, a Cleveland Trailblazer
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a gracious and elegant woman at our AAUW reception honoring the first female president of Case Western Reserve University, Barbara Snyder.
As I sat with this charming guest at a table, I had no idea of her fame or her immense achievements. What impressed me was her warmth, intelligence and kindness. I left the reception so glad that I had even a brief visit with such a special lady.
This last March The Plain Dealer highlighted Judge Jean Murrell Capers, a truly amazing woman, I would like to share with you the article written about her. What a privilege it was to meet her. She is clearly a Cleveland treasure and an inspiration to women everywhere.
Published: Sunday, March 27, 2011, by Thomas Feran, The Plain Dealer.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — As part of Women‟s History Month, we highlight Jean Murrell Capers, a public servant and social trailblazer who has been called the greatest living Clevelander.
In 1949, she was the first black woman elected to Cleveland City Council. Re-elected four times, she worked for jobs, housing and recreation
She was appointed an assistant state attorney general in 1959 and served as a Cleveland Municipal Court judge from 1977 until 1986, leaving only because Ohio law required judges to retire at age 70. Her activism, which ranged from organizing street clubs in the 1940s to protesting the Chief Wahoo logo in the „90s, continued. Speaking at the City Club in 1998, she noted that she was once among protesters picketing the club, which barred women until 1972.
A basketball star and 1941 citywide tennis champion, she graduated from Western Reserve University and Cleveland Law School, Cleveland-Marshall‟s predecessor. A practicing attorney at age 96, she resides in the house on East 40th Street where her parents, both teachers, reared her.