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Black History Month:Celebrate Judge Nghana Lewis

Full Name: Nghana Lewis

Where are you from? Originally, I am from Lafayette, Louisiana.  I have been a resident of St. John the Baptist Parish since 2004.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:  I grew up in a close-knit community, much like St. John the Baptist Parish, where Faith, Family and Festivals were sources of spiritual grounding, moral stability and old-fashioned, wholesome fun and entertainment!  I am the proud daughter of Francis & Gwendolyn Lewis, respectively, of Carencro and Alexandria, Louisiana; the proud mother of two beautiful girls, Ciel & Cydney, and a miniature schnauzer, Carlos; and the proud wife of Corey Hutchinson.  In addition to spending time with my family and friends, I enjoy traveling, reading, cheering for the Saints and eating boiled crawfish!

Who are some black role models you look up to, and why?

My role models are my grandmother, Agnes Lewis, who transitioned in 2018, and my parents, Francis and Gwendolyn Lewis: I owe to each one of them my grounding in the belief that all things are achievable through God, who strengthens me.  Famous Black people who I admire include Michelle Obama, Condoleezza Rice and Denzel Washington.  I admire Michelle Obama, because of the Grace she demonstrated throughout her tenure as First Lady and the priority her platform as First Lady placed on children’s health and education.  I admire Condoleezza Rice, because of her work as a public servant and educator, and because of the excellence she demonstrates in her multiple professional endeavors.  I admire Denzel Washington, because, in achieving incredible success, he has always given credit to God; he has always remained humbled and remembered the people and agencies (Boys/Girls Club of America) who helped him; he has always given back to his community; and he has always paid forward his achievements, by quietly helping other up-and-coming young people within his profession.   

What does Black History Month mean to you?

The month of February serves as a reminder to me of how far our Nation has come in acknowledging the contributions that people of African descent have made to fostering the richness, diversity, strength and well-being of America; this month also reminds me of how far we still have to go, because I believe that those contributions should be taught, remembered and honored throughout the year, not just during the month of February.  Regardless of how they identify racially, culturally, politically and socially, the men and women who have historically fostered America’s growth and prosperity, and who have helped to shape, define and distinguish our Great Nation, should be celebrated.    

Why is it important to encourage diversity?

I think it is important to encourage diversity, because in creating us in his image, God also gifted human beings with different talents and abilities; different cultural experiences, identities and associations; and different life experiences and perspectives.  I do not believe that the true test for us as human beings is to acknowledge the things we share in common—that work is easy.  Rather, I believe the true test is for us to learn from, accept, respect and value the things that make us different. Consciously doing these things often requires us to step outside our comfort zones, to engage and communicate with people and histories that are not familiar to us, and to expose ourselves to realities that are uncomfortable but from which, I maintain, we can learn and grow both individually and collectively, as Americans.

What changes would you like to see in the local community?

To enrich the overall quality of life in St. John the Baptist Parish for all citizens of our parish, I would like to see increased community awareness-raising, transparency and fiscal responsibility in the day-to-day operations of all branches of our government.  I am especially excited about opportunities that the judges of the 40th Judicial District Court, the district attorney, our parish president and local school leaders and educators have been exploring to provide enriched literacy instruction to elementary school children.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Bench and other elected officials and local ministers to expand structured opportunities for people to engage in community service projects and contribute to the beautification, safety and well-being of St. John the Baptist Parish.