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We Call Ourselves Sister Judges

On a smothering hot summer day in 2018, 19 Texas women—all of them Black, all of them pillars in the legal community—got in formation for a photoshoot. Sharing knowing nods and confident smiles, they felt another very powerful figure in the room: Beyoncé was booming in the background.

As the women looked into the camera, they were also looking toward a groundbreaking future. Each was campaigning for a different judgeship in Harris County, one of the most racially and ethnically diverse areas in Houston. Many had been friends for years, but making history as the largest group of Black women elected to judicial seats in Harris County could surely bond them forever.

Not long after the photo was taken, every single one of them won their races. The victory made national headlines and cemented their legacy in judicial history. “When you go through something so life changing, you can’t help but to be bonded,” Juvenile District Court Judge Michelle Moore said later. “There’s nothing else that we could have called each other except ‘Sister Judges.’”

Now, four years later, ELLE went to Houston and gathered the Sister Judges—14 of whom are up for reelection this November—to recreate their iconic photo in a south Houston courtroom. As they took their places alongside each other, the women realized someone was missing. “Houston’s hometown girl,” Family District Court Judge Angela Graves-Harrington said with a wink.

And with that, the “Renaissance” album began to echo through the normally hushed room. The Sister Judges sang along, dancing and giggling. Their bond was clearly still there, unshakable and unbreakable. Just like before, they flashed assured smiles. Our photographer pressed click on a second round of history in the making.


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