When LaDawn “LBJ” Jones walked into a meeting at work a couple of months ago, she was hit with a serious case of “Black Girl Magic.” Jones, the city solicitor in South Fulton, Georgia, was meeting for the first time with the city’s municipal court staff. She entered the room; realized she was looking at everyone in the room looked like her. “I walked into a small conference room; noticed that it was all Black women,” Jones told CNN. “I kind of got that feeling of ‘this is nice — this is exciting.'”
South Fulton, Atlanta suburb-one of Georgia’s newest cities, has the distinction of being perhaps the first city in the nation to have its criminal justice system led entirely by Black women: Many will hail this group as a definitive sign of progress in the tortured relationship between the justice system and Black America. The entire justice system in South Fulton, is run by Black women. It’s not a diversity experiment. They do things differently. The women are quick to point out that this wasn’t some kind of grand diversity experiment by Georgia’s fifth-largest city, population almost 90 percent Black.”This was not pre-planned or prescribed,” said chief judge Tiffany Carter Sellers. “It came together very organically.” The city of South Fulton was incorporated in May 2017: work soon began on putting together a municipal court system: first step: get a judge: Sellers was selected by a panel of Superior Court judges to serve as the city’s first chief jurist. Jones, the city solicitor, and Powell, the city’s public defender, were hired by the city attorney.
Interim police chief Rogers: selected by Mayor William Edwards and the city council (5 of 7 also Black women). Sellers hired Cofield, the court administrator: then they worked together to hire everyone else. By January 2018, South Fulton’s municipal court was up and running. The women are all the first hires in those positions in the young city’s history. They were hired because of their experience and expertise in law enforcement and the courts – their ties to the community; many grew up in South Fulton. Is justice really any different in South Fulton compared to the rest of the country, where it’s mostly meted out by White men? Yes, the women say. Being Black and female means they see things a bit differently. They say. “We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, who bring those experiences with us,” Sellers said. “As women we are natural nurturers, caring deeply about the citizens we meet; wanting to help them succeed in life.” [by Doug Criss CNN, Friday, 6/22/18].
Jeanette Grattan Parker, PhD. Superintendent/Founder Today’s Fresh Start Charter School. 323-293-9826. [email protected]