Jessie Pharr Slaton dedicated her life to the service of the people of Detroit and of Michigan. She became one of the first African-American women in Detroit’s City government to hold a white-collar job.
Slaton was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1983. At the age of eight, she along with her family moved to Detroit. In 1933, Slaton’s first job was as a secretary in Detroit City Hall in 1933. At a time when blacks were rarely given public employment except as domestics.
Her political interests and involvement led her to eventually take up law as a profession with the aim of public service and the defense of human rights. In 1972, Slaton was appointed as the first woman referee in the Recorder’s Court Traffic and Ordinance Division. Six years later, Governor
In 1972, Slaton was appointed as the first woman referee in the Recorder’s Court Traffic and Ordinance Division. Six years later, Governor Miliken appointed her to the office of Common Pleas Judge in the City of Detroit, a position which she held until her retirement at the age of 70. Slaton came out of retirement in October 1980, she accepted an appointment to the bipartisan State Crime Victims Compensation Board from Governor Milliken who also designated her as chairperson of that body. Jessie Slaton was killed on Korean Airlines flight 007 over the Sea of Japan in 1983.