With the permission of Professor Robinson, I am reposting her message sent to the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education listserv:
Having been thoroughly conditioned to avoid self-aggrandizement, I have refrained from personal advocacy. However, in light of retirements, advancing age, and the inevitability of life ending (an outcome the timing of which has become even uncertain as the Corona Virus stalks the land), I am making an exception to that reticence.
I entered the legal academy in September, 1972 as an assistant professor at the College of Law at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. That made me a member of the second “class” of African-American women to secure a tenure-track appointment at an historically-white law school. The single appointment ahead of me was Joyce Hughes who joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School in the fall of 1970. There were, I believe, two African-American women in the 1972 class: Anita Glasgow at Southwestern (now deceased). I cannot recall the second woman. Joyce Hughes remains actively engaged in the academy as a member of the faculty at Northwestern School of Law.
There was one woman on the FSU faculty in 1972: Patricia Ann Dore (a graduate of Pittsburgh Law) who had joined the faculty a year or two earlier. Pat and I were the only two women on the faculty during my tenure there. Pat died in 1989 or 1990.
In September, 1984, I accepted an invitation to visit at the University of Virginia School of Law. That spring (1985), I accepted a tenured offer to remain there. In so doing, I became the first African-American woman to hold a tenured appointment at UVA and only the second tenured woman on the faculty. Lillian BeVier (who retired around 2005 or 2006) had earned tenure there in the late 1970s. In May, 2020, I will retire having spent thirty-five (35) years on the Virginia law school faculty. Overall, I will have completed forty-seven years of service as an academician. I also spent one year (1971-72) as an administrator at the Boston University School of Law.
May you all continue to be safe and well as you continue to serve in our nation’s law schools.
Mildred Wigfall (Ravenell) Robinson
Thank you, Professor Robinson.