Black Voters Need to Fight to Keep Miami's African-American Judges on the Bench

Judges Fred Seraphim and Wendell Graham are the only two black judges up for reelection in Miami next month, and they've both drawn Hispanic challengers. That's no coincidence, Uncle Luke says.
Judges Fred Seraphim and Wendell Graham are the only two black judges up for reelection in Miami next month, and they've both drawn Hispanic challengers. That's no coincidence, Uncle Luke says.
photos via Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

The Miami-Dade judicial candidates on the ballot in August demonstrate how black people are still fighting for equality in this county. Four of the five Anglo and Hispanic judges running for reelection are unopposed, but the only two black judges have drawn challengers who hope their Hispanic surnames are enough to unseat the incumbents.

Unlike with single-member district county commission races, all Miami-Dade voters can cast ballots in every judicial race. It's not uncommon for non-Hispanic judges to draw Hispanic opponents who believe their ethnicity gives them an edge in a county that has a Latino voting majority.

This is a clear example of African-Americans not working together to hold on to the few elected seats we have.

This year, two Hispanic lawyers have set their sights on Wendell Graham, who has been on the bench since 1994, and Fred Seraphin, Florida's first Haitian-American judge. Milena Abreu and Antonio Jimenez certainly won't take their chances against the Anglo and Hispanic judges up for reelection. What's going on here is no different from when an African-American and a Cuban with the same qualifications apply for the same job in Miami. More often than not, the Cuban gets the gig.

Black Voters Need to Fight to Keep Miami's African-American Judges on the Bench

If Graham and Seraphin lose, African-Americans will have less representation at a time when we need more people in powerful positions who can set examples for younger generations of black Miamians. I blame the black community for allowing this to happen. This is a clear example of African-Americans not working together to hold on to the few elected seats we have.

Meanwhile, Abreu and Jimenez can count on Anglo and Hispanic law firms to give them campaign money to beat the incumbents. Jimenez, who is running against Graham, has already raised more cash than the sitting judge.

By not paying attention to the judicial races, African-Americans risk ending up with judges who don't understand the black experience. They will judge you based on the way they live their lives. They will judge you by how life is in Pinecrest and Aventura, not Liberty City. That's why it is important for Graham and Seraphin to remain on the bench.

Going out to vote is the only way African-Americans can prevent this. If we don't cast a ballot, it's just a matter of time before there are no black judges left in Miami-Dade.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.


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