Iowa’s First Black Legislator Passes Away

Willie Stevenson Glanton (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans are taking to social media to share condolences for the late Willie Stevenson Glanton.

Bobby Glanton-Smith tweeted overnight “Willie Stevenson Glanton 1st Black Legislator in Iowa, American Bar Association Hall of Fame & most important, my Auntie passed today at 96.”

State Representative, Ako Abdul Samad, posted to Facebook, “…My heart is very heavy and the tears flow. She was a second mother to me as to others. When people attacked me for being a Black Panther, Mom Glanton and her husband Judge Glanton gave me love and support. When I ran for the school board and then for the house of representatives she was in my corner even [sic] those others tried to destroy me…”

According to the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Stevenson Glanton received her education in Tennessee and in Washington, D.C., and was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1953.  She was the first woman Assistant Polk County Attorney.  She was the first woman and first African American to be elected president of the Iowa Chapter Federal Bar Association and represented that association in a people-to-people tour of China, Finland and the Soviet Union in 1986.

In 1986, Wesley C. Baker said of Stevenson Glanton, “Willie Stevenson Glanton is, indeed, a pioneer in every meaning of the word in respect to the potential of women and minorities; she has succeeded with both competence and grace where the difficulties seemed insuperable.”

A cause of death is unknown at this time. Funeral plans are pending.