The state of Oklahoma has sworn in Tom Colbert as the state’s first black Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Colbert’s swearing-in took place at the Oklahoma Capitol before hundreds of people according to local press accounts.
OBABL first reported on Chief Justice Colbert’s election as chief justice by his fellow justices back in November.
The 63-year-old first joined the state’s highest court in 2004 after being appointed by then Governor Brad Henry. Earlier in his career he had been a judge on the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
In it’s coverage The Oklahoman noted that Colbert was, “sworn in as chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court the same week America was commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation” and that “Retired Oklahoma County District Judge Charles Owens, the first black judge in Oklahoma when he was appointed by then-Gov. Dewey Bartlett to the post in 1968, issued the oath of office to Colbert.”
In his remarks Chief Justice Colbert reflected on the sacrifices of his parents and grandparents, and their steadfast support and encouragement of him. He says more young people need role models in order to believe that can achieve success.
He also noted that his family’s support and encouragement is what has kept him on the bench.
Colbert revealed to onlookers he considered resigning the post twice, once to be considered for a federal judgeship and the other to consider an offer in private practice. Both times, his mother and his wife told him that he owed it to those who struggled for civil rights before him to remain and eventually become chief justice.
“They were right,” he said.
“Here I am on the doorstep of making it to the next level, and it would be very selfish for me to worry about my own opportunities when someone else may never get the opportunity to stand where I’m standing, being a minority.”
Colbert earned a bachelor’s degree from a historically black college, Kentucky State University, a master’s degree in education from Eastern Kentucky University, and his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
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