Wright contends Justice begins with education
Wilhelmina Wright, associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, said Thursday that education was the ultimate tool for social mobility.
Wright spoke as part of “An Evening With the League,” a League of Women Voters Red Wing event at the Anderson Center Thursday evening.
Education was always important in her family, Wright said, and was her grandmother’s key to changing America.
Wright said education is at the heart of the issues facing all communities, citizens and justice systems across the state, as well as the country.
“We, as a community, are promoting justice by committing to provide an education to our children,” she said.
Wright said there are direct ties between education and basic American values and she sees the consequences of not attaining an education far too frequently in court.
In January, Wright said, close to 30 percent of inmates in Minnesota prisons did not have a high school diploma, and in 2012 it cost the state $456 million to house the nearly 9,500 inmates in the state.
Wright said she was happy to be in Red Wing and she was here to try and engage citizens and praised the Red Wing community for its work on projects like Every Hand Joined.
“We see issues, we don’t run from them, as Minnesotans,” she said.
Her family is from Virginia, where she grew up and said her mother was the first in her community to go to college – Virginia State College – when segregated educational institutions still existed across the state.
Wright referenced the decision in Brown v. The Board of Education almost 60 years ago to the day on May 14, 1954, and what a significant impact that had on her life.
The court order, she said, sustained the future of her and her brother’s education.
Wright graduated with honors in literature from Yale in 1986 and received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1989.
In September 2012, Wright was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Gov. Mark Dayton and was previously appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in September 2002, where she served until her appointment to the Supreme Court.
“We are really privileged to have her on the Supreme Court,” said Goodhue County District Court Judge Thomas Bibus, who attended Thursday evening.
Wright also spoke at the Peace Officers Memorial Service Thursday afternoon at the Law Enforcement Center.
As part of the evening the League of Women Voters honored Julie Martin and Dan Guida with the Marjorie Gray Vogel Citizenship Award. Both Martin and Guida have strong ties to education.