Wayne Law Mourns the Passing of Professor Emeritus Edward J. Littlejohn

The Wayne Law community is saddened by the recent death of Edward James Littlejohn—a Professor Emeritus at Wayne State University Law School, who transitioned peacefully at his home on June 7, 2023. 

Littlejohn was one of the leading experts on African American legal history and a giant in the Detroit legal community. He played an instrumental role in the implementation of the Detroit Police Commission. He remained active in his academic pursuits well after assuming his emeritus status, recently co-authoring the award-winning book, No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett, Jr., with Wayne Law Professor Peter J. Hammer.  

In 1957 at the age of 21, Littlejohn enlisted in the Army.  He became an excellent marksman, distinguishing himself as a sharpshooter before being honorably discharged.

Working full-time, Littlejohn received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State University in 1965, and a JD from Detroit College of Law (now known as Michigan State Law School) in 1970.  He graduated top of his class and was hired to join the faculty upon graduation, beginning his academic career. He taught at Detroit College of Law from 1970-72 and then at Wayne State University Law School from 1972-1996, assuming Emeritus status thereafter.  While on the Wayne Law faculty, Littlejohn received two other law degrees, both from Columbia Law School: an LLM in 1974 and an SJD in 1982.  He was also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity


During his time at Wayne Law, Professor Littlejohn’s impact was profound. As stated by Distinguished Service Professor John E. Mogk in the Wayne Law Review in 1996 on the occasion of Littlejohn’s retirement from teaching, “His credentials include an endless list of recognitions and awards for notable achievements in public and private life. Three themes stand out among them: excellence, justice, and quality. These themes depict the essence of his life's work.” 

Among his achievements, Littlejohn created the Damon J. Keith Collection of African-American Legal History, a compilation of the history of African-American lawyers and judges in Michigan. The Keith Collection helped lay the foundation for the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. Professor Littlejohn fully funded an endowed faculty chair—the Littlejohn Family Chair—in the Keith Center as another dimension of his legacy at Wayne Law.

“We will remember Ed for a great many things, not least of which his impact on Wayne Law and the City of Detroit,” said Wayne Law Dean Richard A. Bierschbach.  “For me personally, what started out as a conversation between a dean and a generous donor grew over the years into a cherished friendship, and I will miss him greatly.”

The Wayne Law community joins his family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched in mourning this great loss.  A celebration of Professor Littlejohn’s life and legacy will be held at the Law School this fall.  Details will be forthcoming at a later date.




Learn more about Wayne Law by visiting law.wayne.edu.

Contact: Biba Adams
Email: biba.adams@wayne.edu

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