A pioneering jurist in the state’s courts, Harry Elam Sr. was accustomed to breaking ground. He was the first black judge appointed to the Boston Municipal Court bench, the court’s first black chief justice, and perhaps the first black man to drive into an area reserved for judges outside Salem Superior Court.
“Just as I pulled into the parking space, a court officer in the court ran out to me, ‘Hey, you can’t park there. Can’t you see it’s for judges?’ ” Judge Elam recalled in a video interview for the Boston University School of Law, his alma mater. He chuckled at the memory and added, “So I said, ‘What the hell do you think I am? Court officer?’ ”