UIC John Marshall Law School is remembering and celebrating the life and accomplishments of Judge Blanche M. Manning, a 1967 graduate of the Law School, who passed away on September 20. Manning was the first African-American woman elected to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court.
During her legal career, Judge Manning held many positions, including working as an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; serving as a supervisory trial attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; as a general attorney at United Airlines; and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. She also taught at Malcolm X Community College and DePaul University College of Law at various points throughout her career.
From 1979 until 1986, Manning served as an associate judge; in 1986, she became a circuit court judge in the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County. In 1987, she became the first African-American woman elected to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court, and on May 5, 1994, she was nominated by President Clinton to serve as a district court judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She assumed senior status in 2010 and retired in 2012.
Judge Manning was a dedicated member of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association and often held BWLA meetings in her chambers. She was instrumental in planning BWLA’s first National Summit of Lawyers.
Manning was also an avid jazz musician who played the bass saxophone and clarinet in several bands. She assembled the band, Diversity, composed of musicians of diverse backgrounds, and was a member of the Chicago Bar Association Orchestra.
Born in Chicago in 1934, Judge Manning received her bachelor’s degree from the Chicago Teachers College, her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School, her Master’s degree from Roosevelt University and her LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Manning will be greatly missed by the UIC Law community.