George L. Ruffin of Boston became the first African-American judge in Massachusetts with his appointment in 1883 to the District Court of Charlestown. He served in this position until his death in 1886. In 1869 he was the first African-American to earn a law degree from Harvard University. In 1984 the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society was established by Black senior-level criminal justice professionals in Massachusetts, led by Judge Julian Houston. The Society, hosted by Northeastern University, encouraged greater understanding between the Black community and criminal justice professionals. A portrait of Judge Ruffin was unveiled at Charlestown District Court in February 1990.