Black women judges make historic wins in Mississippi court system
Despite Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s controversial win amid her public hanging scandal, Black women in the state still made gains by securing historic seats in the local courts, The Huffington Post reports.
Three Black women won and will take up residence as judges in the Hinds County Circuit Court.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Faye Peterson, a former Hinds County district attorney, told the Clarion-Ledger the night of her win. “I can’t believe it.”
State Rep. Adrienne Wooten won her runoff as well on Tuesday and along with Peterson they will join Senior Judge Tomie Green, and Judge Winston Kidd on the bench.
Wooten, Peterson and Green are Black women and it’s a first for the circuit court in Hinds County. Winston is a Black man. The four Black judges serving together is also historic.
“It’s historical ― it is,” Wooten said in an interview with local ABC affiliate WAPT 16. “All I can say to that is that maybe the citizens are no longer looking at gender but they’re looking strictly at qualifications.”
“I could see that we could wind up with an entirely African-American bench just based on the demographics of the county, but to find three women, oh that’s a moment to pause,” she said.
Hinds County has a majority Black population, and is reportedly 72 percent Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 statistics.
Peterson told WAPT 16 that the wins were significant especially for young women “to envision the possibilities that you can get past political barriers, that you can rise in your profession and you don’t have to leave Mississippi to do it.”
Rocked by racial controversy, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith still managed to pull out a win and beat Democrat Mike Espy Tuesday in a controversial Senate runoff.
Earlier this month, a video surfaced of Hyde-Smith praising a supporter at a Nov. 2 campaign rally, saying she would “fight a circular saw for him.” And then added: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Hyde-Smith’s win makes her the first woman from Mississippi elected to Congress, amid intense scrutiny for comments she made about a public hanging.