Two seats at the table please!
Two Black women are making history as the first Black judges to sit on the superior court bench in Cobb County, Georgia, the Marietta Daily Journal reports.
In June, voters in Cobb County made the historic decision to elect two of the first Black judges to the county’s Superior Court. Angela Brown and Kellie Hill are both former Cobb County Magistrate Court Judges. Following their unprecedented wins, both women will move to join eight other judges on the Superior Court.
Judge Brown, a Philadelphia native whose father was a Tuskegee Airman and mother worked as a schoolteacher, began her career as a prosecutor in Washington. She went on to work in civil and environmental litigation in New Jersey, citing her early influences as Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg because of their commitment to justice for women and people of color. The veteran attorney is no stranger to firsts, becoming the first African American attorney for the refining company ASARCO in New York and eventually the first Black woman to work as assistant district attorney in Cobb County. She hopes to continue to bring her vast knowledge to the bench, and wants to ensure that everyone feels their cases are heard in court.
“I’m a person of faith, and I believe this is a God-given opportunity, so I intend to walk boldly in it. I’m well-prepared for it and I’m ready. It’s so exciting, and yet at the same time you understand the gravity,” Judge Brown said.
Judge Hill says that for her, becoming an elected judge has been a lifelong dream. As a teenager growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey, she had the opportunity to meet Judge Shirley Tolentino, the first African American woman to sit on one of their county benches. She said a seed was planted then and she never let go of that dream. After law school, she moved to Georgia and secured a position at a small law firm, working her way up from receptionist to legal assistant while she waited to pass the bar, eventually becoming an attorney. Initially, she thought she would work in corporate law, never seeing herself as a trial lawyer. With good mentorship and the support of her peers, she eventually put in her bid for public office. Judge Hill hopes that she can restore faith in the justice system and continue to serve as representation on a bench that is finally starting to reflect the community they serve.
“Because race has been such an issue that is currently in the forefront of society, it has unfortunately been a means for our communities to divide themselves and lose faith in our law enforcement, our judicial system, in society as a whole, it seems. I just believe by having a Superior Court that looks a little more like the Cobb County community, it would hopefully bring a little more credibility to the courts from the perspective of our citizens,” Judge Hill said.
Superior Court Judge Tain Kell said he was excited to welcome the two women to the bench, calling it a turning point for the people of Cobb County. “While I cannot possibly know what it may be like to stand before a judge and hope that he or she will do justice in my case, I know that in order for people to have confidence in a system of justice, it must be representative and inclusive. I have always had faith in my colleagues to do justice and fairness, but we could not change the appearance of the court for anyone who might feel outside the system. I hope this change in our court inspires confidence and makes the system even better than before,” Judge Kell said.
Congratulations Judge Brown and Judge Hill!
Photo Courtesy of Shannon Ballew/Marietta Daily Journal