New Central High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1913

Central High School

New Central High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1913


Joyce A. Hughes

After graduation from Central High School Joyce A. Hughes attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota from which she graduated magna cum laude in 1961. The next year she studied at the University of Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship. In 1965 she became the first Black woman to receive a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating cum laude. When she was selected as a law clerk for Judge Earl R. Larson she was the first woman - of any race - and the first African-American - of any sex - to serve in that position in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota.

After practicing law with a Minneapolis firm, Hughes assumed another pioneering role in 1971 by becoming the first African-American female in the entire country to be a tenure-track law professor in any majority school in the country when she joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota. Currently she is a tenured professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

During a leave of absence from teaching, Hughes was once again a pioneer when she became the first African-American - of any sex - and the first woman - of any race - to be General Counsel of the Chicago Transit Authority. Throughout her life, Hughes has been active in numerous civic organizations including those whose members are appointed by mayors, governors and presidents. She has received many awards which acknowledge her contributions and service.

Hughes was married in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Dr. Henry T. Smith but legally resumed her maiden name upon a divorce. That marriage produced no children. Since affiliating with Northwestern Law School in 1975 she has resided in Chicago, Illinois. However, Hughes has been a frequent visitor to Minneapolis which is the home of her immediate relatives, including her mother who died in 2006 at age 94.