‘Black girl magic’: 19 black women ran for judge in Texas county – and all 19 won

Nov 8, 2018 by

The Guardian

Victories mark unprecedented level of success for black female judicial candidates in Harris county, which includes Houston

The 19 successful women in Harris county. Erica Hughes, who was elected to a criminal court position, wrote: ‘We want to turn Harris county upside down.’
 The 19 successful women in Harris county. Erica Hughes, who was elected to a criminal court position, wrote: ‘We want to turn Harris county upside down.’ Photograph: harrisblackgirlmagic.com

While Beto O’Rourke’s bid to oust Ted Cruz for a US Senate seat may have stolen midterms headlines this week, another ‘Texas miracle’ was under way in Harris county, where 19 African American women ran for judge – and all won.

They campaigned together under the slogan “Black Girl Magic” with the support of the Harris county Democratic party, and united for a pre-election photograph inside a courtroom.

Their victories marked an unprecedented level of success for black female judicial candidates in the county, which includes Houston. With a population of more than 4.5 million, Harris county is bigger than 24 US states. About 70% of the population is non-white.

According to figures from The Gavel Gap, an analysis by a progressive legal group, the American Constitution Society found white men make up 30% of the Texas population but 58% of state court judges.

“Equal opportunity for justice regardless of who you are – I think that with having an African American judge, a female judge, a woman judge, those are the kinds of things that we bring to the bench. And we bring an understanding of a person who may come from that similar background,” Latosha Lewis Payne, a judge-elect, told Fox 26 local news.

“We want to definitely turn Harris county upside down in criminal justice reform,” Erica Hughes, who was elected to a criminal court position, said in a Facebook post.

Democrats won all 59 judicial races in Harris county in Tuesday’s midterm elections. In one of the most eye-catching and significant results, the long-time incumbent Republican county judge, Ed Emmett – in effect, the county’s chief executive – lost to Lina Hidalgo, a 27-year-old first-time candidate who immigrated from Colombia as a teenager.

The morning after the election, Glenn Devlin, a juvenile court judge in Houston who is one of the defeated Republicans, reportedly released most of the defendants who appeared in front of him after asking them whether they planned to kill anyone.

“Apparently he was was saying that’s what the voters wanted,” Steven Halpert, a public defender, told the Houston Chronicle.

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