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The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson

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Information about The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson

Profile image of The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Entrepreneur
Federal Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Earth Tones
Favorite Food:
Peanuts
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
What You Are Is God's Gift To You. What You Make Of Yourself Is Your Gift To God.

Birthplace

Born:
5/26/1947
Birth Location:
Montgomery, Alabama

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Entrepreneur
Federal Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Earth Tones
Favorite Food:
Peanuts
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
What You Are Is God's Gift To You. What You Make Of Yourself Is Your Gift To God.

Birthplace

Born:
5/26/1947
Birth Location:
Montgomery
See how The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Vanzetta Penn McPherson is a retired United States magistrate judge in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. McPherson was born on May 26, 1947, to Sadie and Luther Penn. McPherson received her B.A. degree in speech pathology and audiology from Howard University in 1969, her M.A. degree in 1971 from Columbia University, and her J.D. degree, also from Columbia, in 1974.

McPherson began practicing law as an associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a Wall Street law firm. She stayed there until 1975, when she became an assistant attorney general for the State of Alabama. In 1978, McPherson began practicing law in Montgomery, focusing on family and constitutional law. McPherson was appointed United States magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama in 1992 and was re-appointed in 2000; she retired from the bench in 2006.

One of the most notable rulings for McPherson was a discrimination case involving the Alabama Two-Year College System. Three females at two different Alabama colleges were denied promotions because they were women and because of their age. McPherson ruled in favor of these women and ordered the college system to give them the promotions; she also ordered back pay for the women.

In 1989, McPherson and a fellow lawyer founded and built Roots & Wings, a cultural bookstore that serves as a showcase for black history, art and literature. McPherson holds life memberships of the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association. McPherson also served on Alabama’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, the Eleventh Circuit Advisory Council, and several advisory committees to the Alabama Supreme Court; she is also a past president and vice president of the Alabama Lawyers Association, past president of the Montgomery Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and chair of the Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar.

McPherson has received awards from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Women of Distinction, South Central Alabama Girl Scout Council, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

McPherson and her husband, Thomas, have raised four children.

See how The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vanzetta Penn McPherson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal grandmother, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal grandmother, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her mother's personality and career, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her mother's personality and career, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how segregation in Alabama restricted her parents' educational opportunities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her father's family history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the homes of her maternal and paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal and paternal grandfathers' family histories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers the neighborhood in which she grew up, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers the neighborhood in which she grew up, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience of the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she was eight years old
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the day-to-day schedule of her first three years at Alabama State College Laboratory High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the structure of her classes at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her first grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her second and third grade teachers at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her fourth and fifth grade teachers at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her sixth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her seventh grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her eighth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her ninth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her experience in tenth grade at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects on how notable Civil Rights milestones and people are taken for granted in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her eleventh grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her experience in twelfth grade at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the class segregation of the organizations Jack and Jill of America and National Tots and Teens
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers enrolling at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about the Vietnam War
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the environment of Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her brief experience pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls class discrimination and skin color bias at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her decision to major in speech pathology at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers some of her professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls the jobs she worked while she was a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her decision to enroll at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her professors at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her classmates at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers meeting her first husband while attending Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her experience working at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard and Reed
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes leaving New York City and returning to Montgomery, Alabama in 1975
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes starting her private law practice in Montgomery, Alabama and her marriage to Thomas McPherson, Jr.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers becoming a United States magistrate judge in 1992
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her class action lawsuit against promotion discriminations in the Montgomery County Sheriff Department
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience as a United States magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about judging discrimination cases
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects upon her community involvement and the African American community in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson shares her messages for future generations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her life after retirement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about her Roots and Wings bookstore in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects upon her regrets
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson shares her hopes for the future
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson concludes her interview
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson narrates her photographs