Wallace B. Jefferson has a penchant for making his mark at an early age.
At the age of 44, Jefferson became the youngest school namesake in Northside history and the first Northside alumnus to serve as a namesake for a middle school, an honor reserved for prominent Texas leaders.
The 1981 graduate of John Jay High School began making a statewide and national impact soon after he graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. With two of his colleagues, Jefferson founded one of the first appellate firms in Texas in 1991, and the San Antonio legal eagle quickly earned a nationally respected reputation.
Jefferson successfully argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court in his mid-thirties, something most lawyers don't even do once in a lifetime.
In 2001, Jefferson was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court at the age of 37, making him the first African American and one of the youngest justices to serve on the state's top judicial panel. He was elected to the seat in 2002, and in 2004, he made history again when the Governor appointed him to Chief Justice. In 2006, he garnered more votes than any other non-federal candidate for statewide office.
It's an awe-inspiring career ladder for a descendent of a slave who had a modest upbringing on the West Side of San Antonio as one of six children of William and Joyce Jefferson. Jefferson often talks about the importance of rising above challenges, and that achieving any goal, no matter a person's race, is possible.
"I'm no different from any of the students who will be attending Wallace Jefferson Middle School," he says. "If they can focus on what the teachers are teaching them, they can be anything they want."
Now a husband and father of three sons, Jefferson is widely admired by members of both political parties. He is known for his integrity, his objectivity and a sense of humor he doesn't often get to display on the bench.
In Northside, Jefferson literally is considered a Pillar of Character. In 1999, he was selected as the District's first Pillar of Fairness, now bestowed annually on distinguished Northside alumni who exhibit exemplary character traits.
As a school namesake, Jefferson will continue to make his mark, this time as a role model for thousands of young children who will walk through the doors of Wallace B. Jefferson Middle School.