By Derrick Lane
(Black PR Wire) In one county in Texas, nineteen Black women made political history.
The ladies, all who vary in ages: some are mothers, other grandmothers, were running for judge in the recent election and together “make up the largest number seen on the ballot in Harris County history.” It also marks the first time in history that 19 Black women are running for judicial seats in one county, which happens to be the third largest county in the United States. The group marked the historic moment with a photo featuring all of the candidates.
Well, history was made when all 19 were confirmed as winners in their respective races.
“I’ve waited for the reveal of this photo of 19 judicial candidates for several weeks – 19 Black women running for judge in Harris County, Houston, TX,” LaShawn Williams wrote in a Facebook post. “This entire time I’ve thought of what I’d say the day we were able to share this moment in history with everyone. But really I’m humbled. Never did I imagine that the day I decided to run to be judge, I’d become a part of a club of phenomenal Black women, sisters-in-law, gifted, brilliant, strong – everything I hope to be! It is with great pride and excitement that I share this ‘Black Girl Magic’ with you! Congratulations – you are truly Black girl magic!”
Many are highlighting this win as a bright spot amid Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s loss to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race. The victory of the #Houston19, as the group of women are called, has obvious local impact: Harris County, which encompasses most of Houston, is the third-largest county in the country, and one of the most diverse. Adding 19 women of color to judicial seats builds a bench that’s more reflective of the population it serves, which, as with all elected offices, is a good thing.
Judge-elect Lawshawn Williams told KPRC that she was honored to be among the 19 winning candidates. While they were running, social media dubbed them Houston19. Williams said that the photo holds deeper meaning now because she was one of the 17 elected and will soon take the bench as Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 3 Judge-elect.
A similar thing happened during the 2016 election in Alabama—like Texas, a historically red state—when nine black women were elected as judges in Jefferson County.
Wins like these are an important step in adding much-needed diversity to judicial seats across the country. According to data collected by the American Constitution Society, a national progressive organization focused on the legal system, women of color make up less than 20 percent of state judges. While county judges don’t have quite as much jurisdiction, in most states (including Texas), they have important local responsibilities, including a slew of election procedures, signing off on bail amounts, and jury selection.