Scope and Contents
This collection consists of a small amount of correspondence, certificates and diplomas, and an album of large color photographs titled “This Is Your Life Clarease” and dated April 1, 1994. It also contains framed certificates of recognition or proclamation: a recognition resolution from the Council of the District of Columbia (1990), a certificate from the Commonwealth of Kentucky commissioning her a Kentucky Colonel (1991), and a proclamation of Judge Clarease Rankin Yates Day in the City of Houston (Oct. 27, 2005). Additional large items are the certificate proclaiming YWCA Outstanding Women’s Day, on which Judge Yates is listed as one of ten honorees (June 11, 1992); and a Black History Month poster with calendar for 2000, on which Judge Yates is one of four individuals pictured.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Judge Clarease Yates Papers, 1990-2005 collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Biographical / Historical
Judge Clarease Mitchell Rankin Yates was born Clarease Stewart in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1940. She was educated in the Philadelphia public schools, receiving her high school diploma on January 23, 1958. She earned both her bachelor’s degree and on May 27, 1976, her Juris doctorate from Temple University. She has two sons, Harry and Terrence Mitchell.
Judge Yates began her legal career in the office of Philadelphia’s district attorney. In 1980 she accepted a post as an attorney with the United States International Trade Commission. She then served as senior legislative analyst for the District of Columbia. In 1986 she was appointed an administrative law judge.
In 1990 Judge Yates was appointed to a judgeship with the United States Immigration and Nationalization Service in Houston, Texas, thus becoming the first African-American immigration judge in the United States. At the time of her relocation to Houston, she was honored by the Council of the District of Columbia with the Clarease E. Mitchell Rankin Recognition Resolution of 1990 for, in the words of the resolution, her “example of citizenship, public service, and dedication to her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.” On May 6, 1991, she was honored by the Commonwealth of Kentucky by being commissioned a Kentucky Colonel.
Her commitment to civic engagement has manifested itself in a variety of ways in Houston. On June 11, 1992, YWCA Outstanding Woman’s Day, Judge Yates was one of eleven honorees for outstanding contributions in their fields. In 1993 she began serving as an adjunct professor of law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Early in her Houston stay, she joined the board of the Sickle Cell Association of the Gulf Coast, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the NAACP, and the Houston Symphony board.
Judge Yates became chair of the board of the Sickle Cell Association of the Gulf Coast, which decided that a fund-raiser was needed to provide a financial boost. She proposed an evening gala focusing on fashion. She thus became founder and director of Let the Fashions Begin, Inc., producer of the gala. At the time of the tenth anniversary gala, October 27, 2005, the Sickle Cell Association of the Gulf Coast honored her, and Mayor Bill White proclaimed that day Judge Clarease Rankin Yates Day in Houston. At that time she had also become a member of the Board of Directors of the Houston Holocaust Museum and the Symphony League.
Along with her many civic activities, Judge Yates in 2004 acquired a Certificate in Image Consulting from Houston Community College. She also has certification in modeling and acting from Page Parks School of Modeling and Acting. In 2005 she founded Indestructible Beginnings, an image consulting 501(c)(3) corporation “whose mission is to immerse our youth into an exciting, educational experience which will stimulate their appetites to enjoy all of the wonderful, positive experiences which are available to them.” She has developed a program of classes and written a book titled Indestructible Beginnings -
The ABC of Common Courtesy. She has added to her memberships, the board of the Foundation for Teen Health.