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Black women are driving change and making history in the process. According to The Clarion-Ledger, U.S. District Judge Debra M. Brown has been appointed to serve as the chief judge for the Northern District of Mississippi.

The appointment is historic as Brown will become the first Black woman to take on the role. Brown—a Mississippi State alumna who earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law—has dedicated her career to civic engagement. After transitioning from the architecture industry to the realm of law she sat at the helm of the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association. In 2013, Brown was appointed to become a district judge after receiving a nomination from former President Barack Obama. Brown succeeds District Judge Sharion Aycock who made history by becoming the first woman in Mississippi to be named a federal district judge. Her gavel passing ceremony was held on Friday.

News about Brown’s accomplishment comes after Judge Robin Ransom became the first Black woman to serve as a judge for Missouri’s Supreme Court. “While I may be the first African American woman to be part of this court, I’d also like to say that I have never lived by a label or by any identity that anyone’s tried to put upon me,” she said in a statement, according to CBS News. “When I look in the mirror, I have always been Robin. And I always live my life to be kind to everyone and to be the best person I can be, and I bring those same attributes to being on this court.”

The appointments come at a time when there is a need for more racial and gender diversity in law. According to American Progress, Black women make up a mere 3 percent of all sitting judges and 5 percent of active circuit and district judges.


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