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The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr.

Judge John W. Peavy, Jr. was born on April 28, 1942 in Houston, Texas to Malinda Terrell Peavy and John W. Peavy, Sr. Peavy graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School in 1960, where he began his lifelong engagement in local politics as a member of the Young Democrats of Harris County. He then enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned his B.A. degree in business administration with an emphasis in accountancy in 1964. Peavy worked for Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson’s office as an undergraduate student, and later as a White House staffer during Johnson’s presidency. In 1967, Peavy received his J.D. degree from the Howard University School of Law.

Upon graduating from law school, Peavy returned to Houston, and opened a private law practice focused on criminal and civil cases. In 1967, he joined the Harris County Community Action Association as an associate senior coordinator; and, in 1969, he became an executive assistant to Harris County Judge William Elliot. He then worked as an expert for the American Bar Association’s Project Home, where he handled real estate cases for the NAACP. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the program provided legal and technical assistance to federal housing programs. Peavy also served on the Houston City Council. In 1973, Judge William Elliott appointed Peavy as justice of the peace for a newly formed, majority-black district in Harris County. He was later elected for a full term in 1974, serving until 1977 when he was appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe as judge of the 246th District Court. There, he presided over family law cases, and helped reform the family court system through his endorsement of mediation programs within the court system in 1985. In 1990, Peavy was placed in charge of family law courts for all of Harris County. Peavy retired from his district court judgeship in 1994.

Peavy was a member of the Houston Area Urban League, the NAACP, and the U.S.-China Friendship Association. He also served as the director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas. In 2018, Peavy was honored with a historic portrait at the Harris County District Civil Courthouse.

Peavy and his wife, Diane Massey, have four children.

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

Accession Number

A2016.130

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/2/2016

Last Name

Peavy

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

W.

Occupation
Schools

Blanche Kelso Bruce Elementary School

E.O. Smith Middle School

Phillis Wheatley High School

Howard University School of Law

Howard University

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

PEA02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Galveston, Texas

Favorite Quote

If You Can’t Make It In Houston You Can’t Make It Anywhere.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/28/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Collard Greens, Fish

Short Description

Judge John W. Peavy, Jr. (1942 - ) served as justice of the peace from 1974 to 1977, and as district judge from 1977 to 1994 in Houston, Texas, in addition to directing Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum.

Employment

State of Texas

Harris County, Texas

Favorite Color

Blue, Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes the U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned all-white primary elections

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls the discrimination against black attorneys

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls the rivalry between the black high schools in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his interest in business

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers his early awareness of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his influences at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers his political activities during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers working as an aide at the White House

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers Louis E. Martin

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls his experiences in the White House

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers Stokely Carmichael and Henry "Hank" Thomas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers Stokely Carmichael and Henry "Hank" Thomas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his experiences at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls his influences at the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. reflects upon his time at the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers joining the Harris County Community Action Association

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his role in the Harris County Community Action Association

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers the issues addressed by the Harris County Community Action Association

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes the accomplishments of the Harris County Community Action Association

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers the local leaders involved with the Harris County Community Action Association

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his role as the executive assistant to Judge William Elliot

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls his appointment as a justice of the peace

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his role as a justice of the peace

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his challenges as a justice of the peace

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his first election as justice of the peace

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his experiences as a family law judge

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers his retirement from the judicial profession

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. remembers being acquitted of bribery charges

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. reflects upon his experiences as a family law judge

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about the death of Sandra Bland

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his recent business venture

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls incidents of racism from his judicial career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing
The Honorable John W. Peavy, Jr. recalls incidents of racism from his judicial career
Transcript
Okay so she went to Prairie View [Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College; Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas] too and?$$Right, she went to Prairie View also.$$Now did she always want to be a teacher or were there limited opportunities or what?$$I think that there were limited opportunities at that time but clearly having just gotten from--freed from slavery and experiencing all that they felt that the way for black people to progress is to have an education. And--and at that time, you know, teaching was one of the avenues that you could do something, you know, unless you went into a trade. But they went into teaching.$$So it was a good position to have in those days.$$Yeah.$$As it is now.$$Yeah$$But, okay. So did your mother [Malinda Terrell Peavy] grow up in Anderson--in Grimes County [Texas]?$$Yeah she grew up in Anderson but she eventually moved to Houston [Texas] with my father [John W. Peavy, Sr.] when they got married. He was from Grimes County also, Anderson. They moved to Houston and she got a job teaching Houston Independent School District and she taught the fourth grade up until her retirement.$$Okay. Now did she--do you have any stories your mother told about growing up in Anderson or the early days of Houston?$$Well one thing, my grandfather [Alexander Terrell] in addition to being in charge of the Negro school system in Grimes County, he also owned land, and what was unique in Anderson, Texas, their home--and they had a big two story home on the main street of Anderson and they were the only black family that stayed, you know, in town. And the town is sort of like on a hill like and you've got the courthouse--the Grimes County Courthouse [Anderson, Texas] to the right, you've got an inn to the left and right there is the Terrell--where the Terrells had their home. It was like four or five lots, as I was saying it was a two story house. He also founded the black church in Anderson, Texas and he was very business minded because of the fact that when people lost their property for taxes, he would buy property at the courthouse and get a tax sale and buy property. So she talked about Anderson and growing up. She didn't talk too much about the Depression [Great Depression] but one of my mother's sisters who was older than my mother, experienced the Depression and she talked about the Depression. I can remember as a little boy going to their house where in their pantry they had a lot of flour, you know, they had a lot of staple products because of the fact that they had experienced the Depression and they didn't want to experience it again. You know, so they made sure that staples--that they had plenty of it in their pantry at home.$You had another bench story you wanted to tell us before we talked about your (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well I was about to mention--tell you that, you know, experiences--and, and I've got two experiences I want to tell you. One when I first ran for district court judge you had to run countywide and so I went all over the county trying to get votes but there's a conservative portion of Harris County [Texas] called Pasadena, Texas. I don't know if you've heard of that or not but it's conservative. So I went there and it's somewhat--it's a blue collar area and it was at a labor hall, chemical workers and people like that and I went there and my wife [Diane Massey Peavy] was with me. She was standing on the side and I was standing on the front and my wife told me that she heard one of the people say that, "I can't believe that Negro came out here." So my wife was nervous and she was getting concerned and so anyway she said that I finally talked to the people and when I get through talking the people were clapping and the guy who had made that statement said, "You know, he sounds all right and I'm going to vote for him." So, but she always tell the kids about that. One other thing when I was, too, running, the Ku Klux Klan [KKK] had my signs out in Pasadena and the Chronicle [Houston Chronicle] called me and they asked me about it and I said, "Well I don't know anything about it but obviously they feel that I must be a fair judge." Anyway that was the end of that story. But, you know, and then I had another incident that happened where my court coordinator was on the elevator and I was on the top floor in the courthouse and she rode up the elevator with this white attorney with his white client and he was talking to his client trying to comfort his client trying to explain the procedure and keep him relaxed and everything. My court coordinator who was black--who is black, said that just as the elevator opened the attorney told his client, he said, "You know the judge is a nigger, don't you."$$This is an uncloseted speech, I mean--$$Yeah.$$--I mean closeted speech that you don't really hear, but here it is. So what are you--are you surprised by that kind of thing?$$Well I was, but I didn't let it impact my ruling.

David Chaumette

Lawyer David A. Chaumette was born in London, England in 1968, and grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. He received his B.S.E. degree, cum laude, from Princeton University, his M.S. degree in aeronautics/astronautics from Stanford University, and his J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

In 1994, Chaumette was hired as an associate at the law firm of Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton. From 1998 to 2002, he worked for the Houston, Texas law firm of Porter & Hedges LLP. From 2002 until 2011, Chaumette served as a partner at the law firms of Shook Hardy & Bacon, Baker & McKenzie, and De la Rosa & Chaumette. In December of 2011, he founded the Sugar Land based law firm, Chaumette PLLC, which specializes in business litigation. In 2013, Chaumette was named the first African American president of the Houston Bar Association (HBA).

Chaumette was president of the Houston Young Lawyers Association from 2003 to 2004, and has served on the boards of directors and executive committees for the Houston Bar Association and Neighborhood Centers, Inc. He has also been the president or chair of several other organizations, including Leadership Houston, the Houston Lawyers Foundation, and First Colony Little League. His professional memberships include the National Bar Association, the Houston Lawyer Association, the College of the State Bar of Texas and the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas. In addition, Chaumette is a fellow of the American Law Institute and the Litigation Counsel of America, and has written numerous articles that have been published in magazines and scholarly journals.

In 2004, Chaumette was named as one of the Five Outstanding Young Houstonians by the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce and one of the Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was named to the Visitors Committee of the South Texas College of Law in Houston in 2005, and was named one of the 500 New Stars by Lawdragon.com in 2006. In 2009, Chaumette was recognized as an Extraordinary Minority in Texas Law by Texas Lawyer Magazine. In 2011, he received the Standing Ovation award from the Texas Bar for his service to TexasBarCLE. Chaumette has also been named “Texas Rising Star” and a "Super Lawyer" by Law & Politics Magazine for several consecutive years.

Chaumette lives in Sugar Land, and has two sons, Raphael and Alexandre.

David Chaumette was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 3, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/3/2014

Last Name

Chaumette

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Anthony

Occupation
Schools

Clements High School

Torrance High School

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Chicago

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

London

HM ID

CHA12

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

4/9/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

England

Short Description

Litigator David Chaumette (1968 - ) , founder and partner of the law firm Chaumette PLLC, was named the first African American president of the Houston Bar Association in 2013.

Employment

Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton

Porter & Hedges LLP

Shook Hardy & Bacon

Baker & McKenzie

De la Rosa & Chaumette

Chaumette PLLC