It’s 2019, but the Hamilton County, Tennessee, Commission just made history after voting Wednesday for Gerald Webb to become the first Black man sworn in as judge presiding over the Hamilton County General Sessions Court, the Times Free Press reports.

Webb, a former prosecutor, defense attorney, Erlanger Hospital board member, and a member of the county district’s task force for failing schools, vowed to do his very best in his new position.

“I don’t like to be in the promise business, but I promise this: You will never have any reason to doubt this vote,” he told comissioners. “I will do the very best job I can. Thank you again for the opportunity and chance, and I promise I will not let you down.”

He will replace Clarence Shattuck, who has held the position since 1982.

According to WRCBTV, more than 200 people crowded into Judge Gary Starnes’ courtroom to see Webb take his Oath of Office.

Judge Starnes noted that the Bible used for the oath was given to Webb’s father more than 70 years ago, also making the moment special.

“On this very day here in Hamilton County, it is absolutely unbelievable that this Bible, given to Gerald’s father 73 years ago, a time when this nation was segregated, is the very same Bible that will now be used to swear in Gerald Webb, the very first African American Judge in history of Hamilton County,” Judge Starnes said during the ceremony. “Congratulations Gerald.”


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