The criminal justice system may not have been created with Black people as leaders in mind, but as the first Black commissioner for Hennepin County, Minnesota, Angela Conley is committed to making a mark on its future. 

During her swearing-in ceremony, Conley opted out of taking her oath using a Bible and instead used The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The book has been critically acclaimed for its examination of mass incarceration and systems of oppression that have kept Black people in the United States within a second-class status. 

Conley’s use of the book was symbolic. 

“The choice of The New Jim Crow was an intentional pick for this historic moment,” Conley told The Hill in a statement. “We must never forget that the institutions that created and sustained white supremacy and structural racism never intended to include Black people in the decision making process. These institutions must be held accountable for this and the devastating effects they have had on people of color.”

The new commissioner was sworn in by retired Judge Pamela Alexander, who served as the county’s first Black judge, City Pages reported

View highlights from the ceremony below:

Highlights from today's swearing in ceremonies for Hennepin County Commissioner and Sheriff.— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) January 7, 2019


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