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Judicial appointment instant history in Mississippi

Right smack in the middle of African-American History Month, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves was appointed to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals – the first African-American judge from Mississippi to serve on that court. Right smack in the middle of African-American History Month, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves was appointed to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals – the first African-American judge from Mississippi to serve on that court.

 
 Justice James Graves

Word of Graves’ appointment spread quickly, particularly among those who know him.

“A BIG round of applause is in order for our Brother & Fellow Member, Judge James Graves of the 100 Black Men of Jackson…. This is definitely an instant BLACK HISTORY FACT!” declared one Internet blast.

In a WLBT (Jackson, Miss.) television interview soon after the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment on Tuesday, Graves of Clinton, Miss., said he was happy his folks still are around to see the day. He also talked of a self-imposed pressure to do a good job.

The oldest of six children, Graves, 57, came from a rural all-black high school where, he once said, “I was used to doing really, really well…valedictorian, highest ACT score, and so forth.”

He made the adjustments necessary to succeed at Millsaps College, an integrated metropolitan college, where he said he was surrounded suddenly by “tons of people who were the same way.”

He earned his law degree as well as a masters’ degree in public administration at Syracuse University. He returned to Mississippi and served as a circuit court judge for ten years before then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove appointed him to the Supreme Court. In 2004, he was reelected.

In 2005, Graves received the Chairman’s Award for Justice and Equality at the Fall Leadership Conference of the “100 Black Men of America.”

(This report includes information from www.millsaps.edu)

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