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Home | LawMakers | The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr.
Color: Blue, Gray
Food: Collard Greens, Fish
Quote: If You Can’t Make It In Houston You Can’t Make It Anywhere.
Season: Christmas
Vacation Destination: Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas United States
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 12/2/2016

State Court Judge The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. was born on April 28, 1942 in Houston, Texas. He attended Bruce Elementary School and Edward O. Smith Junior High School. Peavy then entered Phyllis Wheatley High School, where he began his lifelong engagement in local politics as a member of the Young Democrats of Harris County. Upon graduation, Peavy enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where in 1964, he earned his B.A. degree in business administration, with a focus on accountancy. While a student, Peavy worked in the office of Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and later as a White House staffer during Johnson’s presidency. In 1967, Peavy obtained his J.D. degree from the Howard University School of Law.

Despite receiving offers to work for firms in Washington, D.C., Peavy returned to Houston and opened a private law practice focused on criminal and civil cases. In 1967, he joined the staff of the Harris County Community Action Association, Houston’s community action agency, as associate senior coordinator. In 1969, he accepted a position as executive assistant to Judge William Elliot. Having maintained a part-time private practice, Peavy eventually returned to his practice full-time. He served as the only African American housing consultant specialist in the area, working on real estate cases for the NAACP through a program of the American Bar Association. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the program provided legal and technical assistance to federal housing programs. Peavy also served on the Houston City Council. Following a successful movement to rezone judicial districts so that African American judges would preside over African American districts, Peavy was appointed justice of the peace in 1973. He was later elected for a full term and served until 1977, when he was elected district judge. In 1985, Peavy helped reform the family court system through his endorsement of mediation programs within the court system. He lost his reelection bid in 1994, but continued to hear cases as a visiting judge until the early 2010s. During the late 1990s, Peavy was targeted by an undercover FBI investigation of minority hotel developers in downtown Houston. He was indicted on one count of bribery in 1997, but later was acquitted of all charges.

Peavy was a member of the Houston Area Urban League, the NAACP, and the US-China Friendship Association. He served as the director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas.

Peavy and his wife, Diane Massey, live in Houston, Texas.

The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 2, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: