He Was a Good Judge

Ketih Brown on the Bench - Gloria Casas (Sun-Times Media)Kane’s First African American Judge Leaves Legacy, so the headline reads. Indeed, he has, and a very good one; but the headline strikes a discord in me. Let me explain.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that we focus too much on race sometimes. Is that the most defining characteristic, the primary lasting legacy, that Judge Keith Brown leaves us? No, I think not. He is/was a good judge, one of the best we have had. He leaves a legacy of strong character, integrity and a very good judge.

Yes, he was the first African American judge in Kane County Illinois, a County with a storied history and home to the oldest, continuous bar association in the State that goes back to the circuit riding days of Abraham Lincoln, back to a very different time in which African Americans were enslaved and oppressed. That is a legacy too, but one which is more like a cloud, and hopefully we emerging out from under that cloud into the sunlight.

I hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “I had a dream,” echo in my head as I write this. We have risen “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” and are on the “sunlit path to racial justice. “The “bright days of justice” have emerged, but there is the ever present temptation “to satisfy our thirst for justice by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Keith Brown did not drink from that cup. He “walked on the high plain of dignity and discipline” as Doctor King eloquently instructed. Continue reading