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Judge Wilhelmina Wright

2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Judge Wilhelmina Wright

The roots of U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright’s connection to equality and diversity go back to one of the most important discrimination-centered verdicts in U.S. history.

She watched her mother work hard to integrate schools after the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, and that ongoing fight has never been far from Wright’s mind in her journey to the bench.

“I’ve seen the battle for inclusion in the attorneys who appear before me,” reflected Wright, a three-year veteran of the district bench. “Once upon a time, diversity would usually have been restricted to African-American lawyers. But now I see lawyers of all races and backgrounds appear regularly in court.”

Wright remarked that she has seen a similarly gratifying change in bar associations reaching up to the federal level. “The membership and active leadership has grown much more diverse over the years. That’s a big change from when I was an attorney.”

A native of Virginia, Wright grew up in a loving family, but one without role models in the legal field. With the help of a supportive mother, she got her B.A. from Yale and her J.D. from Harvard.

“I had mentors who were concerned about my career,” she said. Wright has done far more than simply benefit from the growth of diversity in law. She is a leader in the District Court’s diversity and inclusion efforts, such as outreach and recruitment initiatives. This summer she invited diverse students from across the country to check out the system via the Just the Beginning Program.

“We want kids to understand the courts better and understand the profession better,” she said. “They should learn what’s attainable.”

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