Texas county swears in 17 black female judges

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

A historic moment from the 2018 midterm elections is now official: 17 black female judges elected in Harris County, Texas were sworn in on New Year's Day, reports CBS Houston affiliate KHOU. Between them, the women have more than 200 years of experience.

The women dominated the ballot back in November and went viral with a shared campaign message touting "Black Girl Magic." The group included 19 women; two were up for re-election and 17 ran for the first time. Their election is believed to mark the largest group of black female judges elected at the same time in the county's history.

I've waited for the reveal of this photo of 19 judicial candidates for several weeks – 19 Black women running for judge…

Posted by LaShawn A. Williams for Judge on Monday, August 27, 2018

For Judge Angela Graves-Harrington, the historic moment was not only a personal win but a chance to show the diversity of Harris County, which includes Houston.

"I also wanted to serve as an inspiration for all those people who wondered if they could. Yes you can," Graves-Harrington told KHOU.

The county is the largest in Texas, and according to the latest census data, 43 percent of residents are Hispanic and nearly 20 percent are black. A blue wave swept the county, with all 38 district judges elected being Democrats.

Posting pictures from the packed swearing-in ceremony, the Harris County Democratic Party tweeted, "Today we usher in a new era of representative government and progressive leadership in Harris County."

According to Out Smart magazine, Judge Shannon Baldwin is also the first openly LGBTQ African-American judge in Harris County, and only the second in the state.

The newly sworn-in officials also include Judge Lina Hidalgo, 27, a Colombian immigrant who unseated incumbent Republican Ed Emmett in November, a position he held for ten years. Hidalgo is the first woman and first Latino to hold the seat.

"We made history in Harris County on Nov. 6 by electing a talented group of individuals who reflect the people and communities we serve," Hidalgo said. "That would not have been possible without the support of the residents of Harris County."

First published on January 2, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Texas county swears in 17 black female judges

A historic moment took place on New Year's Day in Harris County, Texas — the swearing in of 17 African-American women judges with a combined total of 200 years of experience

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