Jewel Lafontant-Mankarious was a Chicago lawyer who achieved a number of firsts as a woman and African-American in her field. Among her achievements, Lafontant-Mankarious was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School and was also the first Black Deputy Solicitor General.
Born Jewel Carter Stradford on April 28, 1922 in Chicago, Ill., her father, Francis Stradford, was reportedly the co-founder of the National Bar Association and a U.S. Supreme Court attorney. Lafontant-Mankarious, a graduate of Oberlin College, earned her J.D. Degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1946.
Lafontant-Mankarious and her first husband, John Rogers Sr., opened a family law firm in Chicago and she also worked as an attorney for the Chicago Legal Aid Society. In 1955, she became the first Black woman to be named an assistant U.S. attorney Northern District of Illinois. In 1973, President Richard Nixon named Lafontant-Mankarious as Deputy Solicitor General.
Nixon considered Lafontant-Mankarious as a possible Supreme Court nominee, but he reportedly dropped the idea after author Sheldon Goodman said that Nixon was told by the American Bar Association that she was unqualified.
Lafontant-Mankarious was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality and worked with the ACLU and the NAACP.
In 1961, she divorced Jones and married H. Ernest Lafontant, who died in 1976. She married Naguib Mankarious and remained married to him until her death in 1997 from breast cancer. She also continued practicing law up until that point, working as a partner for the Holleb & Coff firm.