The recent appointments and elections of alumni I’Ashea Myles ‘14, Marcus Floyd ‘15, Ashley Upkins ‘14 and Aftan Strong ‘16 exemplify how Belmont College of Law alumni are active agents in embracing hope and inclusive excellence to reweave the social fabric, specifically in Nashville’s justice system.
The Tennessee State and Federal Primary Election featured the longest ballot in Metro history with a record number of open seats in the House and Senate. Myles and Floyd both occupied space on the August 4 ballot.
Myles won the general election as the Tennessee 20th Judicial District Chancery Court III judge. Her twenty years of business and legal experience set Myles apart in her campaign where she beat out the Independent write-in, Leroy Ellis, in the general election.
Floyd ran unopposed on the ticket for Division VII judge of the Davidson County General Sessions Court. He spent his entire legal career in public service and championed the key messages of fairness, trust and respect throughout his campaign.
“As judge, I will ensure that every person that walks into my courtroom is treated with the same high level of dignity and respect,” said Floyd. “No matter their zip code, income bracket or background.”
Both judges emphasized the prevailing message of representation in the judicial system to further the goal of equity in the legal process.
“It would be different if people could go somewhere else and get their disputes resolved, but they can’t,” Myles said on her campaign website. “Until our Tennessee courts are comprised of all people, lady justice’s scales cannot be balanced and her eyes blind.”
From beyond the ballot, alumnae Strong and Upkins each recently received significant appointments.
Upkins was appointed Vice President of Membership for the National Bar Association (NBA). Founded in 1925, the NBA is the nation’s oldest and largest global network of predominantly Black American attorneys and judges. The association connects over 67,000 lawyers, judges, law students and law professors of color while engaging in social justice economic issues and NBA-sponsored professional development.
Strong’s appointment as Juvenile Court Chief Magistrate in Shelby County presents a two-fold account of firsts. She will be the first female and the first African American to hold the position come September 1 when she is sworn in.
Strong’s experience in family law motivated her goal of holding a position that “administered justice for youth” rather than advocating on their behalf after their sentences were issued or pending.
The appointments and elections of these Belmont Law alumni are the beginnings of an actualized goal to see a judiciary that is reflective of the communities which it serves.
“It is not lost on me that this is a dream realized,” Strong said. “It truly feels like a journey down the path of purpose.”