Charles Z. Smith, ’55, the first person of color to serve as a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court and a former professor and associate dean at the UW School of Law, passed away on Aug. 28, at the age of 89.
Justice Smith, known widely as a legal pioneer and an advocate for social justice, was also the first person of color in the state to serve as a judge on the Seattle Municipal Court and the first to serve on the King County Superior Court. He received his juris doctorate degree from the UW in 1955.
UW Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity Rickey Hall remembered Justice Smith with this statement:
“While I did not have the opportunity to meet the Honorable Charles Z. Smith, it is clear that his legacy made a tremendous impact on law communities, both in Washington state and across the country,” Hall said. “A true servant leader, he influenced generations of lawyers and judges during his esteemed 50-plus year career, including many UW students of color. We will continue to be inspired by his passion for freedom and justice, and his desire for all people to thrive.”