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by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 10:00 am, January 02, 2019, Women

Texas county officially inducts historic 17 black female judges

Texas' newest judges. Pic credit: Cosmopolitan

History was made on Tuesday, New Year’s Day, in Harris County, Texas, in the U.S. when 17 black female judges were sworn in following their victory in the November midterm elections.

The women, who were part of a local democratic campaign called “Black Girl Magic Texas”, make up what is said to be the largest group of black female judges to be elected at the same time in Harris County history, according to the CNN.

The public was invited to the ceremony and images shared by Harris Democrats’ Twitter page showed a packed house.

In total, 19 African-American women will be serving on the bench in 2019. The women made history on November 6, 2018, when they won their coveted seats and became judges in Harris County, Texas.

They were the biggest number of black women to appear on voting ballots in the state ever, earning the moniker Houston19, according to Blavity.

It is quite telling that Harris County is the third largest in the state and the most diverse, as reported by Cosmopolitan. The wins make it all the more important to highlight, since, according to a report conducted by the American Constitution Society, non-white women make up less than 20 per cent of judicial forces at the state level.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who was also sworn in on Tuesday, highlighted the importance of diversity in Harris County’s government.

“It’s important to me that this event is open to the public. We made history in Harris County on Nov. 6 by electing a talented group of individuals who reflect the people and communities we serve. That would not have been possible without the support of the residents of Harris County,” Hidalgo said in a press release.

The 2018 midterm election sparked debates about the impact of voting and the role of African Americans in American society.

This came on the back of talks about the current administration perpetuating division and hate and that now more than ever, blacks needed to have their voices heard – not just by protesting or using tools like social media, although that is a start.

To effect real change, blacks are expected to seek and gain positions where they are required to yield strength and can formulate policies that favour other people of colour, instead of marginalizing them even further.

The narrative of the quintessential older white man holding a title in politics is now changing, especially in Harris County, Texas, which has 20% of its residents identifying as African-American, according to the recent census data.

Expectations are high for the newly sworn in female judges,
but with more than 200 years of experience between them, these women say they are ready for the task. 

“I’m ready to roll, we’re ready to roll, I’m excited about it,” said Erica Hughes, an incoming judge for the criminal courts whose docket is already filled with work. 

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