Judge Alicia Washington
"Experience failure without fearing it"
Alicia R. Washington, 52, born April 20, 1970, in Opelousas, Louisiana. She has 2 children, AJ and Aliya, who she cares for deeply and is raising with her husband Alfred. She and Alfred have been married for an impressive 24 years, and although they’ve changed and evolved over that time, they’ve stayed committed to each other and to their goal of raising their two children the best they can. She considers her marriage to be a personal triumph of hers and is grateful to have found her life partner all those years ago. “To be able to do this thing called life with your best friend is a true blessing."
During her childhood, Alicia was lucky enough to have teachers who genuinely cared about her. “Ms. Veazie, my second-grade teacher, became my godmother. My aunt Lily Mae was my third-grade teacher. My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. LeDay, looked elegant like Diahann Carrol, but she hit your knuckles with a wooden ruler like a Catholic nun. Fifth grade was Ms. Vallien, who always pushed us to learn about other cultures. She would always say we’re just a little speck of this world. My sixth-grade teacher was one of my favorites ever. We were at a math competition, and she looked at me and said, ‘I’ve never seen such an extraordinary child work so hard to be ordinary.’ It would take me many more years to understand what she meant.” Washington is eternally grateful for the care and effort that her teachers invested in her.
As a young girl, one of her favorite memories was running through the streets of Korea. She recalls going into people’s yards, eating seeds from their sunflowers, and begging the street food vendors for samples. She also remembers her mother’s friends calling her a “gangster”. Back then, everything was so simple to her. Things started to change soon after, when she watched her hometown in the Deep South deteriorate in the 80’s. She watched as crime increased, businesses closed, and people lost their homes. “I didn’t realize at the time that drugs were largely responsible. I just knew that all of a sudden, I could not run wild.”
Growing up biracial in South Korea and the Deep South was, no doubt, challenging for Alicia, as neither of her communities entirely accepted her. Although it was painful, she chose to see the glass half full. She decided that she was a bridge between her two communities, attempting to show both sides that there is good and bad in all of us. It forced her to look beyond people’s exterior and try to see who they really are. Her mother, Tong Sun Richardson, influenced her the most growing up. She admires her mom for giving up everything she knew to come to America, and for measuring her success by how well her children were doing. Alicia only ever wanted her mother to feel like her sacrifice was worth it.
After high school, she joined the Army National Guard as a combat medic. After completing basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey and Advanced Individual Training in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, she went to Louisiana State University to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree. Three years later, she earned her Juris Doctorate from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
Washington applied for 11 different judicial appointments and made the final cut 10 times over the span of 7 years. Each time she’d travel to Tallahassee to interview with the Governor’s staff and each time she’d be denied the position and left wondering whether they were right to reject her. She wondered whether she was smart enough or qualified for the job and even prayed for God to remove the desire to be a judge from her heart if it wasn’t the path that He chose for her. “Then He revealed something to me. In 52 years of living, no one had ever given anything to me. I earned everything. Then it was clear to me that I had to run. It was scary and I was not sure what the end result would be, but if I lost, it would have been on my terms, and that I could live with. I could not live with someone else getting to decide who I am or what I could accomplish.” From that whole experience, Alicia’s learned to expect failure without fearing it. She knows from experience that failure and disappointment does not break you. Rather, it builds your character and makes you stronger. And sure enough, Alicia R. Washington is now a Judge.
The single most important lesson she’s learned over her lifetime is that when you look at yourself, you have to be happy with what you see. “It starts by knowing that God created you”, she says. “God loves you and He’s pretty important. So you should also love yourself. You have to love yourself before you receive love.” Alicia only wants to be remembered as a faithful servant of God. One who had the faith to follow His calling despite the world telling her that she was not enough. She wants to use her God given gifts to help His children.