Charles E. Freeman is a resident of the City of Chicago. He was graduated from Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA, with a B.A. degree in liberal arts in June 1954. He received his J.D. degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago in February 1962.
Early in his professional career, Justice Freeman served as an assistant attorney general, an assistant state's attorney and an attorney for the Board of Election Commissioners.
He was appointed as an arbitrator to the Illinois Industrial Commission in January 1965 and served in that capacity until September 1973. From September 1973 until December 1976, he served as a commissioner on the Illinois Commerce Commission, having been appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
Justice Freeman engaged in the general practice of law from 1962 to September 1976 when he was elected to the Circuit Court. He served 10 years on the Cook County Circuit Court, winning two elections in the process. While a Circuit Court Judge, Freeman became the first African-American to swear in a Mayor of the City of Chicago, his good friend, Harold Washington. He was elected to the Appellate Court in 1986.
Justice Freeman is a member of the Cook County, Illinois State and DuPage County Bar Associations, the Illinois Judicial Council, the Illinois and American Judges' Associations and the American Judicature Society. He has received numerous awards throughout his career.
He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court on Nov. 6, 1990, as the first African-American to serve on the Court. On May 12, 1997, he was selected as Chief Justice and served in that capacity until January 1, 2000.