African-American Judges Head Up Oklahoma’s Two Highest Courts For First Time in History

In Oklahoma, two  judges have made history by becoming the first African-Americans to head up two of the state’s highest courts.

Tom Colbert is set to become chief justice of the nine-member Oklahoma Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Colbert’s law school classmate, David B. Lewis, is poised to become presiding judge of the five-member Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Tulsa World describes what both men have in common:

Both men were raised by single mothers, are former prosecutors and worked in private practice.

Both are runners – Colbert is a sprinter, while Lewis runs for distance.

And former Gov. Brad Henry appointed both as the first blacks to hold a post on their respective appeals courts.

 Colbert says he owes his success to those who came before him and paved the way for him.

The chief justice will be in charge of overseeing district courts in Oklahoma’s 77 counties. But as far as Colbert is concerned, his job doesn’t stop there. He’s looking forward to mentoring kids so that he can pass on some of what he’s learned on his road to success.

Colbert also offered a bit of advice, saying,  ”There are great opportunities out there if you believe in yourself and try to stay on the right path,” he said.  Lewis said that he happy with his achievements, but went on to say that it is important for people to understand that success doesn’t happen overnight.

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