Colbert, Tom | 2017
- Birth and Death Year | 1949 - Present
- Induction Year | 2017
- Profession | Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court
- Oklahoma Connection | Justice Colbert was born in 1949 at the Oklahoma Memorial Hospital. A couple of blocks down the street, at the Oklahoma Supreme Court, during the period that Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher was fighting to attend law school at the University of Oklahoma. The same University from which Colbert graduated and the same court where Colbert now sits as the first African American Supreme Court Justice.
- Hometown | Sapulpa
Justice Colbert is a 67 year old man still trying to beat Usain Bolt’s 100 meter dash record.
“Whether as a soldier in the army, a Chicago school teacher or an advocate for children, Justice Colbert has always understood the larger mission. The struggle on behalf of those who had little and to make change especially where the law could help realize our American ideals.” – Ken Levit
After graduating from Sapulpa High School, Colbert went on to earn degrees from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Kentucky State University before serving in the United States Army and its Criminal Investigation Division. While at KSU, Colbert was named All-Conference in track and field for the long jump and triple jump and All-American in track and field for the long jump. Following an honorable discharge, he resumed his formal education and earned a masters of education degree at Eastern Kentucky University. He taught middle school students in inner-city Chicago and served as a recreation specialist for a local boys’ club.
Returning home to Oklahoma, he earned his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma before accepting the position of Assistant Dean at Marquette University Law School. He served as an Assistant District Attorney for Oklahoma County before entering private practice. During this time he also served as an attorney for the Department of Human Services.
In 2000, Colbert was appointed to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, serving as Chief Judge in 2004 and followed by an appointment to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Justice Colbert made history as the first African-American on both the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and the Supreme Court. He made history again, in 2013, when he became the first African-American to serve as Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.