Anna Langford

Anna Langford (1917-2008), born in Ohio, lost her father as was an infant and her mother when she was eight years old. Her grandmother raised her until she was a teenager at which time she moved in with her aunt and uncle in Chicago. After graduating from high school, she worked as a typist in several different government offices.

Wanting to become a lawyer since her Ohio days, Langford went to night school at the John Marshall Law School for eleven years and finally earned her J.D. in 1956. As a civil rights and criminal attorney, she defended civiil rights worker throughout the 1960’s. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led civil rights marches in Chicago, Langford was front and center. In 1964, she went to Mississippi to work in the “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign. When Langford heard that a cross was burning in front of the motel where she was going to stay she said, “Oh, fine. I’ll stop and pick up marshmallows.” She learned how serious the KKK was about shutting down voter registration when three other civil rights workers from the North were murdered.

In 1971, for the first time the Chicago City Council members included two women. One of them was Anna Langford who served three terms. Langford, an independent Democrat, once said, “I have learned from bitter experience that there is no such thing as a compromise with Mayor Richard J. Daley.” Jesse Jackson described her as “a thorn in the side of those in power."

Why this stop? The 63rd/Ashland Green Line stop is three blocks west of Langford’s Englewood law office.

Learn about “Freedom Summer” in either of these historical dramas—Mississippi Burning or Murder in Mississippi (available on streaming services).

Photo by Louis Bird III