The 21st Judicial Circuit Court Friday made history. J. Imani Drew took her oath of office becoming the first African-American woman to serve as judge in the district serving Kankakee and Iroquois Counties.
Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride delivered the oath of office, calling the event before a packed audience “a momentous occasion.”
Drew is a longtime attorney in Kankakee, who worked for both the prosecutor's and public defender's offices.
Chief Judge Michael Kick said "She simply has a remarkable ability to treat all people in all circumstances with dignity and respect."
Kankakee County Bar Association President Mark Steffen said "The respect Imani has shown to the people on both sides is what makes our community a good place to live."
The president of the Iroquois County Bar Association, Jim Tungate, added telling the courtroom "You have a great sense of integrity, and we need integrity in our judiciary."
The crowded courtroom gave Drew a standing ovation.
Drew said afterwards her goal is to “be the best possible judge I can be, and serve this community. I will be mindful of the characteristics and attributions of a good judge every day."
Drew also made mention that Jane Bolin, the first African-American woman judge in the United States, was sworn in on the same day 77 years ago, July 22, 1939.