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A Black judge from Kentucky is breaking barriers for women of color in the realm of law. Denise Clayton was appointed chief judge by the Kentucky Court of Appeals judges, making her the first Black woman to take on the position, the Courier Journal reported.

Clayton’s swearing-in ceremony took place on Wednesday inside of a Louisville courtroom, the news outlet writes. Scores of individuals came out to witness the historic moment, leaving standing-room-only. In her new role Clayton—who has been a chief pro tem judge for two years—will be in charge of administrative oversight for the court. She’s slated to serve in the role through 2020.

Clayton has used her journey to change the status quo. This isn’t the first time that she has broken racial and gender barriers in her career. In 2007, she became the first African American woman to serve on the Court of Appeals and following that milestone she became the first Black woman to be appointed to circuit court judge in the state of Kentucky.

Outside of her work in law Clayton—who is a graduate of the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law—serves as the chair of the Jefferson County Commission on Racial Fairness.

This month has been one of many firsts for Black women across a variety of different industries. Psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris was recently appointed to become the president of the American Medical Association; making her the first Black woman to take on the role.


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The National Museum of African American History and Culture, NMAAHC
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