A record number of judicial seats in Jefferson County, Alabama, were filled by African-American women during Tuesday’s contentious presidential election.
Nine Black women were elected judges in Birmingham, Jefferson County’s most populous city, according to The Birmingham Times. They are set to be sworn in in January.
“I just think it’s great,” said lawyer Emory Anthony, who is former president of the Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council. “Jefferson County is a majority Democratic County. They turn out to vote. They’re capable of electing qualified individuals.”
Tuesday’s winners were Nakita “Niki” Perryman Blocton, Agnes Chappell, Elisabeth French, Shera Craig Grant, Berndette Brown Green, Tamara Harris Johnson, Javan Patton, Annetta Verin (uncontested) and Debra Bennett Winston. The Birmingham Times also reported that Lynniece Olive-Washington also made history when she snagged a win in the Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney’s Office race, making her the first African-American and first woman to serve in the position.
“I feel honored … that I’m allowed to be the chief law enforcement officer and I understand that I have a lot of work to do,” Olive-Washington told the paper. “I welcome it.”
Although the county moved to vote in a record number of Black women judges to the bench, Judge Harris Johnson said she and the others weren’t elected just because they’re Black or because they’re women. Judge French echoed Harris Johnson’s sentiments, stating that her win was more about her leadership and experience rather than her race and gender.
“I think the people don’t necessarily just support you just because of your race and gender,” French said. “I think voters expect more than that. They look at our qualifications and make a decision about who they can trust with the leadership position.”
Other Democrats also did well in Tuesday’s election. In fact, Democrats won all 14 seats up for election to the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Alabama Today reports. Fifteen people of color also were elected throughout the county.
(WRITER USES “ELECTED” AND “APPOINTED” INTERCHANGEABLY. THEY ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS.)