Women are making strides in 2018 like never before. Though Republicans across the country have made a concerted effort to roll back women’s rights, it’s clear that progress cannot be stopped. This is certainly true in the South—where black women have been making political history over the last year. In May, Democrat LaToya Cantrell was sworn in as the mayor of New Orleans, the first woman to be elected mayor in the city’s 300-year history. Later that same month, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to be nominated for governor by any major political party. And that’s not all. Also in Georgia, in the newly created City of South Fulton, black women are making history as heads of the criminal justice system. For the very first time in American history, every single one of the criminal justice department heads is a black woman.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution explains in detail how some of the women were hired first and then appointed/hired the black women to their respective positions:
Six of those women hold the highest positions in the city’s law enforcement arm: Chief of Police Sheila Rogers, Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers, Court Administrator Lakesiya L. Cofield, Clerk of Court Ramona Howard, Solicitor LaDawn Jones and Public Defender Viveca Powell.
“This is something that happened organically, but it’s a wonderful thing,” Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers said. “We bring our experience as African-American women, mothers, and wives to the table every day. So when we’re making those decisions, we certainly don’t forget our experiences.”
This is not only historic because all the women are black. It is also the first time that a city’s criminal justice system has been led by all women. As AJC notes, this was not intentionally planned. But it does demonstrate the very reason why the city was founded to begin with—in order to better represent the community it serves.
To some naysayers, this may not sound like the incredible achievement it is. But it could prove to be a shining example for the rest of the country. South Fulton is Georgia’s fifth largest city. It was incorporated in 2017 and the police force and municipal court began operating in March. Though it is new, the city has already included details in the municipal court that are meant to be equitable and provide better access to representation than other systems around the country. It also includes planned opportunities for second chances.