The entire justice system in this city is run by black women.

The city of South Fulton is making headlines for its justice system run entirely by black women.

Even those facing punitive justice are celebrating what's happening. One Georgia man got a parking ticket, and he brought his daughter to court so she could see the women running it.

"He had heard about us in some kind of way, and he wanted his daughter to see this combination of black women handling business," public defender Vivica Powell said about the experience. "He had a ticket and I wondered why he had his little girl with him. Most of the time, people do not bring school-aged children to court. He told me ... this is why he brought her."


Powell is one of the eight black women who make up South Fulton's justice system — from Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers down to Court Clerks Tiffany Kinslow and Kerry Stephens.

They were all hired after South Fulton officially became a chartered city in May 2017. A photo of the women went viral on social media in June 2018 and has become a larger story about black, female empowerment.

"I didn't notice until [City Solicitor LaDawn Jones] said something … she walked in and said 'Oh my God! Look at all this black girl magic,'"  Stephens said.

Photo by Reginald Duncan/The Atlanta Voice.

These women leading their local justice system is both a moment to celebrate and a powerful statement about representation.

South Fulton is about 90% African-American, so it makes sense that it would largely be represented by black people. But that kind of representation is unusual in the U.S., where women of color account for 20% of the U.S. population but only 8% of our state judges. Meanwhile, 57% of state judges are white men despite them making up only 30% of the population.

That's what makes South Fulton so unique: Its governing body reflects its people.

"I think all of us are genuinely invested," Sellers said. "I know several of us live in the community, have gone to school, or have been reared in the community, and so there is this personal attachment to the community that I'm not certain exists in other places."

Having leadership that accurately reflects a community's demographics is a huge step in moving toward more equitable justice. People of the same race (and other identities), upbringing, or socio-economic status in positions of power bring with them an understanding of what it's like to exist in a community.

That knowledge is essential in governing with purpose — and South Fulton is setting the example for one way many U.S. communities could improve justice systems.

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Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

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via DanielandDavid2 / Instagram

Editor's Note: We used "black" in lowercase for our headline and the body of this story in accordance with emerging guidelines from the Associated Press and other trusted news outlets who are using uppercase "Black" in reference to American descendants of the diaspora of individuals forcibly brought from Africa as slaves. As part of our ongoing efforts to be transparent and communicate choices with our readership, we've included this note for clarity. The original story begins below.

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