One of the 17 black women elected as Houston-area judges last year as part of a “Black Girl Magic” campaign has died at age 57.
Judge Cassandra Hollemon’s daughter, Brandy Hollemon, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her mother died Monday, about a week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Hollemon said her mother, who presided over the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 12, started feeling ill in mid-December but kept going to work until she was hospitalized on Jan. 23.
“She was an awesome, very strong woman,” Brandy Hollemon said.
Brandy Hollemon said her mother loved being part of the “Black Girl Magic” campaign during last year’s election. The campaign debuted over the summer with a viral photo that featured the 17 women and two other sitting Harris County judges inside a courtroom. Although those two judges lost their bids for seats on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, they retained their local judgeships.
Brandy Hollemon said that her mother was still mourning the December 2017 death of her own mother as she campaigned last year.
“The other judges would have to console her on the campaign trail, but she wouldn’t stop, she kept going — just endless hours, up late at night at different functions, campaigning and speaking. She just wouldn’t stop,” Brandy Hollemon said.
The Harris County Democratic Party put the “Black Girl Magic” campaign together as part of an effort to broaden the diversity of the area’s judiciary. The victory by the 17 black women was part of a Harris County rout by the Democrats, who won almost all of the nearly 70 local judicial races and ousted a popular Republican from the county’s top elected office.
The Harris County Democratic Party said the election increased the number of black female judges in Harris County from eight to 25.
Brandy Hollemon said her mother gave birth to her at the age of 15 and married her father. She said when her father died in 1992, her mother, who was going to law school, became a single mother to her and her brother.
“She continued to go to law school and she studied endless nights. She had a table she would sit at with a little lamp and just study all night long, and she was working a full-time job,” said Brandy Hollemon, who said her mother then practiced law for more than 20 years.
Cassandra Hollemon’s funeral is set for Saturday.
The Harris County Commissioners Court will appoint someone to fill her spot, said Douglas Ray, a special assistant Harris County attorney.