By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Two of the African American female federal judges that President Joe Biden is considering nominating for the U.S. Supreme Court were born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia.
The vacancy was created when Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last week.
U.S. Court Of Appeals, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, 43, was born in Norfolk and is the daughter of two noted area members of the judiciary: United States District Judge
Raymond Alvin Jackson and retired Norfolk General District Court Judge Gwendolyn Jackson.
Jackson-Akiwumi received her Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from Princeton University in 2000 and her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2005
At Yale, she served as a Senior Editor in the Yale Law Journal.
Based in Illinois, she is married to Eric Akiwumi, a Nigerian American financial policy analyst, and was in the first group of Biden’s judicial nominees, being nominated to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2021.
Jackson-Akiwumi is the first person nominated to the 7th Circuit with a background
as a public defender. She even received Republican support for her nomination from Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski.
The second Norfolk native is Wilhelmina Marie Wright, who was born on January 13, 1964.
Growing up, her mother advocated for her to receive equal education due to ongoing resistance to integration. She is the daughter of Drs. William and Lillian Wright, who were long time faculty members of the Norfolk State University faculty.
Wright studied literature at Yale University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduating cum laude in 1986. Wright received her Law Degree from Harvard Law School in 1989.
She is a United States District Court Judge of the United States for the District of Minnesota. She is the only jurist in Minnesota’s history to be State District Court Judge, Appellate Court Judge and state Supreme Court justice. She was formerly an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, a judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and a Judge of the Minnesota District Court, Second Judicial District (Ramsey County).
The other names being advanced for Biden’s pick for the first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court are Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit Court; California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger; South Carolina US District Court Judge Julianna Michelle Childs; and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Eunice Lee.
Since being elected Biden has nominated eight Black women to the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, five of whom have been confirmed.