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Letter from Justine Wise Polier to Hon. Jule Sugarman, Administrator

Excerpt from a 1971 letter from Justine Wise Polier to Judge Jule Sugarman, Court Administrator. It is an example of the day to day struggle she fought against institutional racism.
Courtesy of Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Polier, Justine Wise
Date / time
A two year old child of two addicted parents had to be removed for temporary care. I walked into my chambers adjoining the court where a transportation worker was speaking to Allocations. I heard her say, He is a Negro, but he is a beautiful little boy. No, I can't say he is light skinned. He is dark skinned. She then reiterated, "But he is a beautiful little boy." At this point I took the telephone...I told her I was Judge Polier, and wanted to know by what right she was asking such questions in regard to emergency, temporary foster home care. I , also, told her that two years ago the Commissioner of Social Service...had agreed that this practice would stop, and that no questions would be asked concerning race or color. Her answer to me was that she was following regular procedure. I am deeply troubled after exploring this whole matter two years ago, and securing an agreement that this form of institutional racism would be stopped. We are right back where we were two years ago.
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Letter from Justine Wise Polier to Hon. Jule Sugarman, Administrator." (Viewed on November 19, 2018) <>.


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