New marker on Queen Street in Charleston acknowledges nation’s first black state supreme court justice

A new marker was unveiled Thursday at 82 Queen St. for Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American state Supreme Court justice. Buy this photo

A new historic marker in downtown Charleston acknowledges the nation’s first black state supreme court justice.

It was unveiled Thursday at 82 Queen St., the former law office of Jonathan Jasper Wright, a South Carolina Supreme Court justice in the 1870s.

Wright served during Reconstruction, a time of tumultuous legal battles and ruthless politics.

Wright retired from the bench in 1887 under political pressure and practiced law on Queen Street. Then he helped start the law school at Claflin College in Orangeburg.

A bevy of judges, including S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, talked about Wright’s significance during a ceremony before the marker was unveiled.

District court judges Richard Gergel and Margaret Seymour, Associate S.C. Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty and former S.C. family court judge Abigail Rogers also spoke.

S.C. Rep. Seth Whipper, a North Charleston Democrat, and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley also acknowledged Wright’s importance.

Police blocked off Queen Street between King and Meeting streets for about two hours.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or follow him on twitter @dmunday.

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