In Texas, “Black Girl Magic” has taken over the Harris County judiciary. On Tuesday, 17 African American women — all of whom had been part of the campaign — were sworn in.
The women were part of a larger blue wave in the jurisdiction: Democratic candidates unseated more than 50 incumbent Republican judges during last November’s elections.
Also among the newly sworn-in is Lina Hidalgo, the first Latina and first woman sworn in as Harris County’s chief executive, which is referred to as county judge.
Harris County, which includes Houston, is one of the most diverse counties in the nation, according to Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lillie Schechter. With a population exceeding 4 million, it is also the third most populous county in the United States, and the state’s largest jurisdiction.
Schechter called Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony “fitting” in a statement to The Washington Post.
“It’s a brand new day in Harris County!” the local Democratic Party posted Tuesday on social media.
The “Black Girl Magic” campaign — designed, managed and funded by the Harris County Democratic Party — came to fruition after the primary election, once the women were all on the ballot.
“We looked around the room one day and thought: This is something special,” criminal court Judge Erica Hughes said, dubbing it “divine intervention.”
The women then came together hoping to inspire individuals to get out the vote.
“Most people see our photograph and think, ‘Hmm, that’s not what I was expecting,’” Judge Lori Chambers Gray, another “Black Girl Magic” candidate, told The Post.
The barriers that may once have been in place for women are no longer as prominent, Gray said, adding the new judges bring knowledge of the law and also of the citizenry.
“When you talk about a constitution that truly includes everyone, that’s really important,” she said.
The demographics in Harris County have shifted dramatically in recent years. According to recent census data, nearly 20 percent of Harris County’s population is African American, and more than 40 percent is Hispanic.
“You had a judicial bench that did not look like the community. People who had been there for a long time were basically living in a bubble,” Judge Dedra Davis said during an interview with The Post. Davis unseated Brent Gamble (R) in the November election after he spent two decades on the bench.
The 17 women — who began their four-year terms Wednesday in the county’s civil, criminal, family and probate courts — were part of a broader Democratic Party success in Harris County.
According to Schechter, of the 75 elected Harris County judgeships, all but one opening unseated a Republican. Several Democratic candidates also defeated incumbents for top county leadership positions, as well as state representative and congressional seats.
While the party enjoyed successes locally, other races went to Republicans. Texas voters narrowly reelected incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R) over Beto O’Rourke (D), but incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R) won reelection by a wide margin.