“If you’re bad enough to do the crime, you’ll be good enough to do some serious time.” — Judge Z. Mae Jimison
“The Judge’s Rap”
Among the glossy magazines and internet profiles written by and featuring women, there are a certain group of women who never quite seem to get that much positive media attention ... from other women.
Christian women in general, and Black Christian women in particular.
One local woman immediately springs to my mind. The late Judge Z. Mae Jimison. Judge Jimison inspired a generation of Indianapolis Black women — some of them Christians — to become lawyers, and eventually, judges.
Jimison may not have been the first woman to run for the mayor’s chair here in our city. However, had she gotten the proper support from the county Democratic party, she might have become the first Black woman elected. Her campaign was issues packed, and she gave the Republican candidate a firm run for his money.
Her key identifiers? Faith, family and justice. They served her well.
Jimison was already a legend before the bar of justice before I arrived in Marion County. She eventually became the first Black woman to serve as a judge on the Marion County Superior Court. A pioneer in helping her fellow citizens through the law, she was tough but fair in her decisions, as well as inspiring — and helping — other Black men and women who were interested in law and the courts to 'go the extra mile' and become members of the bar.
But it was her faith that caught my attention, on one uneventful afternoon during a routine reporting assignment that soon became anything but routine.
You see, there was a discussion on religion in the upstairs chapel of the old Light of the World Christian Church on 38th Street. I drew the assignment and was not expecting much to happen. After all ... covering a discussion on religion in a church — and myself not being a Christian at the time — was not an ‘earth-mover’ for me. Little did I know what was going to be on the way, thanks to Judge Jimison.
The crowd was small. One of the participants was a local minister from the Nation of Islam (NOI) mosque who went first, while Judge Jimison was seated in the front row of the audience. The NOI Minister had Jimison by not only height, but by rhetoric — or, so he thought! He was going for the intimidation factor, as he surveyed the audience.
Oh, he had plenty of citations, quotes and mentions of pride in his religion citing that it was the right way for Black folks to believe. However, he eventually made his final points after what seemed like a long period of time. Then, it was Jimison’s turn at the podium, and the NOI Minister took his seat in the front row. Sweat coming from his brow, there was a satisfied smile on his face as he was confident that he had made his points and represented his religious views well.
What this NOI Minister did NOT know — or did not consider — was that not only was Jimison solid in her faith in Jesus Christ, she was an accomplished lawyer and judge. Making solid and clear points in debate and summation were as easy to her as breathing. She cited the key supporting truths of the Christian faith, why she believed in them and how they had helped to shape her life. By the time she was finished, everyone present KNEW that she was a Christian and proud that she was in the faith.
That Muslim man made a HUGE mistake in underestimating Jimison.
Men — and women — can make the rise from player to coach. When one makes it up the ladder of success, and eventually become known as a coach, one of the character traits is the following: the mark of a real coach is a person who has paid their dues in the trenches and is sometimes underestimated. Thus coaches make it ‘look easy’ when they go public with their God and their talents, skills and abilities with which God has blessed them.
There is another little known truth about Jimison. She could rap. Yes, a judge that could flow full force! I still have a copy of the tape in my files where she laid down her “Judge’s Rap” about the dangers of committing crimes in Marion County — especially IF you were a juvenile — and what would happen IF you wound up before her in court. One particular verse comes to mind:
“If you appear before me;
Your Mama may cry, and your lawyer may reason,
I’m not Santa Claus, and this ain’t ‘tis the season’;
I’m gonna send you on down the road to prison.
For ... if you’re bad enough to do the crime,
You’ll be good enough to do some serious time.”
If one can’t hear the message in that verse, then, you must be deaf!
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Book Reviewer, P-School Ranger, Modern Street Gangs Specialist and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Feel free to reach him with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.