Shequeena McKenzie is a 28-year-old lawyer who has made history by becoming the first ever Black female judge in her city of McComb, Mississippi. She was appointed as the Judge Pro Tem by the city’s selectmen in October 2021, and she also serves as a judge in the neighboring city of Magnolia.
McKenzie’s journey to the bench was not easy. She grew up in McComb, a city with a history of racial violence and discrimination. She faced many challenges and obstacles as a young Black woman pursuing her dream of becoming a lawyer. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in Political Science and Human Rights, and then attended the Mississippi College School of Law, where she was one of the few Black students.
She said she chose law as a career because she wanted to be the change she wanted to see in the world. “I went to law because I did not want to talk about what wasn’t being done,” she said. “I did not want to sit there and dwell on the negativity, I asked myself what I could do to help out the world.”
She practiced law part-time in Jackson, Mississippi, where she specialized in family law, criminal defense, and civil litigation. She also volunteered as a mentor for young girls and women, and as a lay counselor for people with mental health issues.
She said she was inspired by Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the first woman, first Black person, and first person of Asian descent to hold the second-highest office in the United States. “It gave me hope watching her,” McKenzie said. “It showed me that anything is possible.”
She also hopes to inspire others, especially young Black girls, to pursue their dreams and overcome any barriers they may face. “Sometimes you will enter the room and no one will look like you,” she said. “Do not let that overcome your abilities. You belong in that room. You deserve to be in that room. It is a mindset you have to get. Once you get that mindset, do not let anyone stop you.”
McKenzie said she is honored and humbled by her appointment as a judge, and she is ready to serve her community with fairness, integrity, and compassion. She said she wants to make a positive difference in the lives of the people who come before her court. “It was a surreal moment because I work hard, I have faith,” she said. “The next thing you know you start reaping the benefits of the things you have invested into. It was definitely a full-circle moment for me.”
Shequeena McKenzie is a trailblazer in the judiciary, and a role model for many. She has broken barriers and shattered stereotypes, and she has shown that with hard work, faith, and determination, anything is possible.
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