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Craig Watkins

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Information about Craig Watkins

Profile image of Craig Watkins

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Mexican Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Thanksgiving, Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
11/16/1967
Birth Location:
Dallas, Texas

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Mexican Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Thanksgiving, Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
11/16/1967
Birth Location:
Dallas
See how Craig Watkins is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lawyer Craig Watkins was born on November 16, 1967 in Dallas, Texas to Richard Watkins and Paula Watkins. Watkins graduated from David W. Carter High School in Dallas, Texas in 1986. He earned his B.A. degree in political science from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas in 1990 and received his J.D. degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas in 1994.

Watkins began his legal career working in the Dallas city attorney and public defender’s office. He subsequently left the City of Dallas office and formed his private practice, Craig Watkins Attorney at Law, PLLC, where he worked mainly as a licensed bail bondsman. Although he campaigned and lost a 2002 election for district attorney, Watkins won the election in 2006 and became the first African American district attorney elected in the State of Texas. He served as district attorney from 2007 until 2015, during which time he was credited with securing a 99.4% conviction rate with a focus on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse. Watkins also worked to resolve cases of wrongful conviction through the use of DNA testing and the review of evidence illegally withheld from defense attorneys. Watkins ran for re-election as district attorney in 2014, but was defeated by former Judge Susan Hawk.

As district attorney, Watkins attracted state and national recognition for his work. He was featured in Texas Monthly, Jet, and Ebony magazines in 2007. In 2008, Watkins was named Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News. During the same year, he was featured on an episode of 60 Minutes. Watkins also appeared on PBS NewsHour in a live interview with journalist Ray Suarez for his office’s 2011 exoneration of Cornelies Dupree, who was previously convicted of armed robbery in Texas.

Watkins’ involvement in the community included Friendship-West Baptist Church, Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, the Circle 10 Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Prairie View A&M Alumni Association.

Watkins and his wife, Tanya, have three children: Chad, Cale, and Taryn.

Craig Watkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 14, 2017.

See how Craig Watkins is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Craig Watkins' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins describes his motivation to pursue a career in law
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins talks about his mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins talks about his father's education and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins talks about his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins describes his likeness to his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Craig Watkins describes his community in Dallas, Texas, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Craig Watkins describes his community in Dallas, Texas, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Craig Watkins remembers his early interest in politics
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Craig Watkins describes his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Craig Watkins talks about his involvement on the swim team
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Craig Watkins talks about his grades in high school and college
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Craig Watkins describes his organizational involvement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins talks about reconnecting with his elementary school teacher
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins recalls his decision to attend Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about his education in African American history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins describes the history of black political leadership in Dallas, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins remembers the influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins talks about his experiences of discriminatory policing in Dallas, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins remembers his employment prospects after college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins remembers applying to law school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins recalls his first year at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins describes his interest in constitutional law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about the communication skills of Mayor Ron Kirk
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins recalls his experiences in the Dallas County Public Defender's Office
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins talks about the changes to the justice system in Dallas, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins remembers starting his private practice in Dallas, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins recalls his decision to run for district attorney of Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins remembers the Democratic Party sweep in Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins describes the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas County District Attorney's Office
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about the unreliability of eyewitness identification
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about criminal justice reform, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins talks about criminal justice reform, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins describes the use of DNA evidence in Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins recalls his media exposure as district attorney of Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins talks about exonerating thirty-eight inmates in Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins recalls the criticism he faced as district attorney of Dallas County, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins talks about his reelection campaign in 2014
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about his campaign considerations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins reflects upon the success of the Conviction Integrity Unit
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins talks about his private law practice in Dallas, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins reflects upon the current political climate in the State of Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his career, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins describes his opposition to the death penalty
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his career, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Craig Watkins talks about his family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Craig Watkins shares his advice to aspiring black law professionals
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Craig Watkins describes how he would like to be remembered