African American Legal History Archive at Wayne State University Receives Papers of Federal Judge

John Feikens, Damon J. Keith, and Ralph Freeman at the Judge Keith's 1967 swearing-in ceremony

The Damon J. Keith Collection of African American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit has announced that it has received the donation of the papers of John Feikens, former federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Feikens, a white man, served with Damon J. Keith as inaugural co-chairs of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1963 to 1966. Judge Feikens was appointed to the federal bench in 1970 and served as the chief judge for the Eastern District of Michigan from 1979 to 1986, when he took senior status. Before his death, Judge Feikens decreed that his papers go to Wayne State due to his lifelong friendship with Damon Keith.

Judge Keith was nominated to the federal court in 1967 and since 1977 has held a seat on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Keith, now 89 years old, said that “Judge Feikens was a dear friend and a thoughtful and compassionate jurist who cared deeply about his community, the larger issues in society and the role judges play in shaping society. We are honored to have his papers as part of the Keith Collection.”

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