MSU College of Law

Commencement Ceremony Honors Distinguished Alumni, Edward Littlejohn 

At MSU Law’s 2016 Commencement Celebration, President of the Alumni Association Mr. Bryan Melvin, ‘77, announced that the recipient of the 2016 Honorable George N. Bashara, Jr. Class of ’60 Distinguished Alumni Award is Edward J. Littlejohn, ‘70. Littlejohn was unable to attend the ceremony but his classmate, Dennis Archer, accepted the award on his behalf and read Littlejohn’s remarks to the crowd.  

“In 1970, when I sat where you are, it was impossible to imagine that one day I would be on our alma mater’s graduation stage to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award,” Littlejohn wrote. “Dean Howarth, the Board of Trustees, and the Alumni Association, I am profoundly honored and grateful to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. I will cherish it forever.”

Each year the Alumni Association selects one individual who is an outstanding alumni and leader in the law. “This individual represents the core ideals and values of the College of Law and of the Alumni Association. A person who is a true leader in our profession,” said Melvin.

Littlejohn is a professor emeritus at Wayne State University Law School where he taught from 1972-1996 and he was the first African-American member of the Detroit College of Law faculty, where he taught from 1970-1972. 

He has received many awards for community and professional service, including the Trailblazer Award from the Wolverine Bar Association for seminal research and publications on the history of Michigan’s African American lawyers and judges.  He is the founder, a principal contributor, and first director of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History at the Wayne State University Walter P. Reuther Library.  Littlejohn was also co-reporter for the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Minorities in the Legal Profession.

“Ed’s professional achievements provide a stunning example of how one lawyer can bring much-needed change to a community. We’re so proud to count him among our alumni,” said Dean Joan Howarth.