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Issue Date: January 2010

Most Interesting People 2010 - Jean Murrell Capers

by Jennifer Bowen, Katie Dragga, Emily Garvey, Lauren Hennen, Christina Ipavec, Brittany Moffat, Kim Schneider, Colleen Smitek, Beth Stallings, Carly Toyzan, Erick Trickey & Jim Vickers; edited by Colleen Smitek
Jean Murrell Capers
Retired judge &
city councilwoman | 96

Why she’s interesting … Capers became the first black woman elected to the city council of any major U.S. city when she was elected in Cleveland in 1949. She served as an assistant state attorney general in the 1960s and a Cleveland municipal judge in the ’70s and ’80s. She’s still a practicing attorney and received a Cleveland-Marshall College of Law honorary doctorate of laws degree this year — 64 years after graduating from the school.

Family … Her parents, Edward and Dolly Murrell, were born in 1879 and 1881 respectively and met at Kentucky’s State Normal School For Colored Persons. Her father became a printer and helped her win her council seat by publishing The Informer, a paper that promoted her candidacy. “I had my own newspaper because none of the three [daily] newspapers were for me.”

Causes … During her eight years on council, Capers found city jobs for black Clevelanders and spoke out against segregation in the local taxicab industry.

Champion … Capers won Cleveland’s 1941 tennis championship, organized by the city recreation department. She went on to teach health and physical education at Central High School.

The Roosevelts … In 1943, Capers met Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. “I just told him what a great man I thought he was.”

Why practice elder law? … “The elderly are still believing 98 percent of what they’re told, and 96 percent of what they are told is not true.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:39:51 PM by Kate Singleton
I would like to know Judge Capers involvement with a housing addition in Fort Worth, Texas that bears her name.
Friday, February 11, 2011 9:43:34 PM by Beth Muhesien
I know Mrs.Judge Capers, She is a wonderful woman and I have so much more that I would love to learn from her. My two children also love her and also want to learn more from her.If I can become even 2% of what she has become I will be blessed. Thank you Mrs, Judge Capers. We love you Beth,Derek,Caroline ( From the resturant)
Sunday, February 27, 2011 5:39:50 PM by Andra Rivers-Jones ( Andra Smith-Mensah
I know Mrs. Judge Capers I met her back in 1991. I went to church with her. I remember thinking about what a great woman she was, and I wondered why she took an interest in me, a master's level social worker, who was not a lawyer. I learned so much about her during this short time I spent with her. I have so much love and respect for her she has paved the way for so many of us, and helped to change society as a whole.

Thank you, Mrs. Judge Capers! You are a true legend and an iconic person for all Blacks and for everyone in general.
Sunday, October 30, 2011 8:25:28 PM by Anonymous
Judge Capers has been a great mentor to many throughout the years! I participated in a dream project she initiated in the 90's! She wanted to run an all African American candidate ticket for office! She took me to the Columbus and gave me a tour of many of the state offices. I never got my name on the ballot but I came very close and the experience was thrilling under her leadership! I will never forget the experience we even got our picture in the Call and Post newspaper. Thank you Judge Capers for inspiring me to continue in the field of law!
Sunday, March 25, 2012 9:33:31 PM by Anonymous
Perhaps Judge Clifford Davis or Reby Cary (African American historian) of Ft. Worth, TX could tell you more about Jean Capers the African American Community built in her name around the mid to late 1950's.

It is a real shame that that neighborhood association (without researching their history) named their org. for George Washington Carver when they have such an accomplished Living Legend who should have been honored.

Jean was perhaps Ft. Worth's 1st African American woman lawyers.

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