Black History Month, observing important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, is celebrated through the entire month of February. Coincidentally, World Day of Social Justice falls on February 20. In honor and remembrance of these two commemorations, it is only fitting to recognize an individual whose contributions are significant to both: Greg Mathis or as he is more commonly known, Judge Mathis.
Mathis’ story is one of redemption. How he overcame an upbringing in the tumultuous times of 1960’s and 1970’s Detroit, teetered away from early gang involvement, and built a career that put him in position to affect the lives of others, presents an example of a positive African-American influence who has carried the integrity of social justice.
Judge Mathis: Early Beginnings
Born in Detroit, Michigan on April 5, 1960.
Raised, along with three brothers, by a single mother.
As a teenager, associated with the Eroll Flynns, a Detroit street gang.
Arrested several times in his youth.
At age 17, learned his mother had cancer, and began to turn his life around.
Earned his G.E.D. in six months and was, thus, offered probation.
Judge Mathis: Collegiate Years
A family friend helped him get admitted into Eastern Michigan University.
Became interested in politics and worked for the Democratic Party.
Organized demonstrations against the apartheid in South Africa.
Joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Graduated with a B.S. in Public Administration.
Judge Mathis: Career Highlights
Began political career as an unpaid intern.
Became assistant to Clyde Cleveland, a city council member.
Admitted to University of Detroit School of Law.
In 1988, appointed head of Jesse Jackson’s Presidential Campaign in Michigan.
Head of then-Mayor’s Coleman Young’s reelection campaign.
In 1995, elected a superior court judge