116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Willie Stevenson Glanton was a number of 'firsts” during her lifetime.
A prominent Iowa leader, Glanton held a lifelong dedication to law, human services and civil rights. But more importantly, many say she paved the way for so many people of color to take on roles that she did.
Glanton was the first Black woman to be elected to the Iowa State Legislature, where she served in the state House of Representatives from 1965 to 1967.
Glanton, who was originally from Arkansas, graduated from Tennessee State University and Robert Terrell Law School in Washington, D.C. She was admitted to the Iowa State Bar Association in 1953 - only the second Black woman to do so.
Soon after traveling to Africa and Southeast Asia in the 1960s for the U.S. State Department, she became the first woman Assistant Polk County Attorney, according to the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
She went on to hold numerous leadership positions on various boards, councils and commissions as well as a number of civic and community organization. She was the first Black attorney at the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1966 and the first Black member of the Des Moines City Council, a role she held on an interim basis, according to the Des Moines Register.
Glanton went on become the first Black person elected president of the Iowa Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, representing that professional organization as she toured China, Finland and the Soviet Union in 1986.
That same year, she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She went on to win many awards over her lifetime before her death in 2017. She was 95.