Celebrating Black History Month: Kellie Hill

Feb. 27—EDITOR'S NOTE — In recognition of Black History Month, the MDJ is asking community leaders how they are celebrating and what the month means to them. Today, we feature Cobb Superior Court Judge Kellie Hill.

Judge Kellie Hill's perspective on Black History Month has changed in recent years.

Black History Month has taken on an even greater significance for Hill as she has become a leader in Cobb.

In 2020, alongside Angela Brown, Hill became one of the first two Black judges elected to the Cobb Superior Court bench.

"Black History obviously is a month that has always been one that has caused me to reflect, and I will say even more so now because ... I am technically part of Cobb County's Black history," Hill said. "It's not lost on me, it's something I'm very proud of, but it's something I don't take lightly."

Recognizing the gravity of her position in a post that demands a high degree of fairness and integrity, especially for a citizenry as diverse as Cobb's, Hill told the MDJ she has become more reflective in the past few years about the month.

During this February, Hill found that various events she has attended have deepened her appreciation for the everyday challenges of some of American history's most famous Black leaders.

For example, Hill attended Smyrna's Black History Month dinner last week, where she was "pleasantly taken" by speaker Erica Armstrong Dunbar's discussion of Harriet Tubman, the former slave who became the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, and spied for the Union during the Civil War.

For Hill, Dunbar impressed her with how personal she got about Tubman, a woman whose life is best known through her achievements as an abolitionist.

"She painted a picture of who Harriet Tubman was as a person, and the health challenges that she endured, the personal, familial background that she had, and it made her more of a three-dimensional person than just somebody that we read about on a paragraph on a page during Black History Month," Hill said.

It's events like those during Black History Month, Hill said, that humanize people long mythologized in the annals of Black America's story.

She added that it is important to take pride in one's history, something that is demonstrated when people talk about celebrating Black History Month year-round. However, Hill noted, it is during this one month that Black history takes center stage, and in that context, people like Harriet Tubman can be appreciated for how human they were, not just how much of a leader they might have been.

"While we talk about history and while we celebrate history as our American history, which yes, Black history should be and is included in our history as a country, I think having Black History Month just makes us focus on the different dynamics that perhaps those individuals had that maybe we would not highlight, but for having a month in which Black history itself is celebrated."