History in the Making
In the nearly 170-year history of Collin County, Texas, there has never been an African American who has been elected to a judge’s bench.
I didn’t believe it myself. So I called the District Clerk, the 25-year incumbent sheriff, and Collin McKinney’s oldest living namesake. Other than Republican chair Fred Moses, no African American has been elected to any office in Collin County!
Johnny Hill had blonde hair, hazel eyes, and light skin. He could often enter through the front door of establishments that had a rear door for “Colored.”
“Once,” recalls granddaughter Angela, “My grandparents pulled up to a store in Sherman, Texas, and Grandpa went in the front door as he always did. Shortly after, my mom (who was a child at the time) and who was dark jumped out of the car and ran inside to find him.
He was never allowed in the front door again!
He was one of those black men that could ‘pass’ until his roots were revealed.
This was the life of Angela Tucker and her family in North Texas.
Her grandfather was a laborer who often worked many jobs in order to provide. Her beloved grandmother was a ‘domestic’ who sewed, cleaned, and cooked for well-heeled “white folks.”
They were God fearing, honest, hard working, and committed to doing the right thing.
“My grandparents had seven kids,” she said. “My grandfather was one of 11. Of the 11, three had the blond hair and very light skin.”
In the pre-70’s color was still a major barrier.
Angela recalls,“Once, in middle school I was called to the office during class. This had never happened to me before and I was a little nervous. I had never been in trouble; I always made excellent grades, participated in most sports, and worked toward my goal of an academic scholarship so I could be a lawyer one day.”
“When I got to the office, my mother was there! She had been called from work by the counselor. The purpose of the meeting was one I will never forget. He informed us that Sherman schools tracked grades from 6th grade, and that I was the only colored student to always make honors grades!”
What I remember is my mother’s response. “You mean I had to leave work so you could tell me my daughter is doing what she is supposed to do?”
“When I was about 6 years old, my parents divorced. My father had money enough to hire a better lawyer, and my mother, brother, and I ended up living in a two room apartment. (They both had attorneys. My dad just had a better attorney. My mom’s attorney took advantage of her in my opinion.)
“Even at that young age, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could protect those like my mom. That was the motivating force for doing my very best in school. That and the example set by my mother and grandparents.”
Angela went on to be voted most likely to succeed and received an academic scholarship to the University of Texas. She followed that with an SMU law degree before joining the D.A.’s staff. After four years as a prosecutor, she opened her own practice. Three years ago, she joined her current partners at Daniel Tucker & Harrison PLLC.
United Nations of Law
A white woman, Terri Daniel, has a family made up nearly every Anglo blood line. She also has two 4-year-old daughters. One, an adopted Chinese.
A Hispanic woman, Deborah Harrison is from Puerto Rico. Her husband is a white mutt of sorts and her two boys are beautifully blended.
A black woman, Angela Tucker married a man who is a mixture of American Indian and African American Their two children reflect that in their features and eyes.
These are the attorneys at Daniel Tucker & Harrison.
Theirs is such a mixture of races that they laughingly call themselves the United Nations of Law. They are not only partners, but close friends, and family.
“We love Angie. She is so special! When she decided to run for a judgeship, we knew we needed to share her with the community. When she takes on a case, she takes on responsibility for her client. She still tracks and supports former clients regularly.” Daniel and Harrison
Black in America
Q: When did you decide to run for a judge’s seat?
Tucker: Last summer, I was watching the series ‘Black in America’. I was not only moved by some of the stories of greatness overcoming racism but also just their doing the most with the gifts and opportunities God has laid before them. My grandmother always taught us ‘when much is given, much is required. I was really motivated by the show. I sat up thinking over it and something inside me said, it is time for me to get off the side lines and live up to my beliefs of justice to all.
When I approached my friends and partners, my inner circle, I asked them if they thought I was ready. My support group is now an anchor and a whip. If I wasn’t motivated before, I am driven now. I know I can be a fair and competent judge.
Q: What motivates a judge?
Tucker: I never wanted to be a Politician. I was taught right is right and wrong is wrong. My family did not see grey. Some are in it for position; some are in it for power, and some because of politics. I take a stand point of a servant leader.
When I was just a little girl, I was signed up to be an usher at my church. I am still an usher to this day and wouldn’t want to give that interaction up.
Q: You are called and over achiever and workaholic. How does that help you as a judge?
Tucker: That amuses me. At the D.A.’s office, they said I turned off the lights. My partners say the same thing. In my opinion, what others call workaholic, I call being responsible.
Why go to bed when you can’t sleep because there are things you need to do? I just call it working hard, just like my family has always done. A judge should be motivated, respect the time and cost to the clients and their attorneys, and be active in their community. Being a judge does not exclude you from public service off the bench.
Q: Why do you feel you are the best candidate for District court?
Tucker: The District court handles civil cases over $100,000, all felony crimes, all family and CPS cases. The judge is part of the Juvenile Board for which I am very passionate. They make decisions that can save or cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they try death penalty cases.
With the retirement of Judge Henderson, there will only be two remaining judges who have tried these death penalty cases. I am also qualified having tried numerous capital murder cases.
Angela Tucker is a minority. Her bio on Angelatuckerforjudge.com is extensive with achievements, involvements, and associations. By all accounts, she is one of those who not only strive toward doing her best, she does it. With a family comprised of a dozen races, and a partnership that is also multi-ethnic, she is far from being racially motivated. She is human rights oriented. Does that make her oriental?
In our interview, she never brought up her public service involvements which are life long and many. Others had to do that. She never brought up the race card. That was me because I just couldn’t grasp the fact that she would be the first African American judge in Collin County.
Angela doesn’t see color. She sees human beings. If she is elected, she doesn’t want race to be the issue. She stands on her work and she stands for equal treatment under the law. Her color is American.
J.B. Blocker is a McKinney-based media consultant who writes for the North Texas Reporter.