Black History Maker - Standish E. Willis, Kent Alum
Criminal defense attorney
Standish E. Willis was born in Chicago on
August 16, 1941. The ex-gang member-turned-lawyer grew
up on the West Side in a blue-collar neighborhood. After high school, Willis joined the
U.S. Air Force and later took a job as a bus driver. Years later as a student at Crane
College, he led the campaign to name the new West Side campus Malcolm X
College. Willis organized clubs
and a "Communi-versity" to promote African and African American
Willis completed his A.A. and transferred to the University of Chicago,
where he received his B.A. He
continued his education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he
received his M.A. in economics. Willis
earned his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1983 and later joined
People Law Office, a civil rights law firm.
Willis has been an active crusader against police violence. He organized
the African American Defense Committee Against Police Violence and later signed
on to represent former street gang leader Aaron Patterson, who was
convicted of a double murder in 1989.
Willis has been the recipient
of several awards for his service to civil rights and the community.
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