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Question of the Day
MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Thanks to her son Robert, Joyce Wilkins has had a close look at the U.S. Senate confirmation process for federal judges.
Robert's appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was confirmed earlier this month, less than four years after the Northside High School graduate was named district judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
This proud mother has been there with her son every step of the way, attending the investiture - also known as the official "robing" of a judge - in 2011 and planning to be there for this latest advancement in her son's career.
"I've spent a lot of time on the Senate's website. And on C-SPAN. I never thought I'd do that," Joyce Wilkins told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/Lhw6Ue ). "It's really pretty interesting, this whole process. There's a lot of back and forth that I only thought went on in committee and sometimes it looks like it's just wasted time. But it's not. He finally got here and it's all pretty exciting."
Appointed by President Barack Obama for both positions, Robert Wilkins' road to his present position took longer than expected when last year congressional in-fighting led to delays in confirmation votes on the president's appointees.
That changed when Congress returned from its winter break, approving Wilkins and others shortly thereafter.
The new position on the U.S. Court of Appeals also brings Wilkins one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court. This Court of Appeals has been considered second only to the Supreme Court in its influence over federal policy. Judges on the D.C. Court of Appeals have also been considered for vacancies on the nation's highest court.
"This is a proud moment for Muncie," said Geraldine Burns, a Muncie resident and local civil rights advocate. "I think of Robert the same way I think of Hurley (Goodall) or (Aamir) Shabazz or anyone else who's been a ground breaker. And his mother - although she doesn't brag about him, she never has - she has to be proud. She raised him and his brother by herself and that says a lot about her, too."
Joyce Wilkins raised her sons - Robert and his younger brother, Larry - as a single mother and has always worked hard to give them opportunities in life.
She said she never believed in the idea that as a single mother, she couldn't provide her boys with a strong foundation for a successful life.
With the help of her parents and others in the community, Joyce gave her sons an understanding of hard work, persistence, faith in God and the ability to enjoy the results of their labor.
"I had a good support system and that really made a difference," Joyce said. "(Robert) got a good start here in Muncie. In the schools and with my family ... there were a lot of people who knew he would do great things. Having a single mother didn't stop anyone who knew him from believing that."
After graduating from Northside in 1982, Robert Wilkins attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelors of science in chemical engineering in 1986. In 1989, he obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School, deciding to work in the public service field as a private attorney and as a public defender.
He also played a role in the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open in 2015.
Robert Wilkins returns to Muncie regularly, most recently visiting with family and friends over the Christmas break. Friends said they'd expect nothing less from Wilkins, who has always been proud to call Muncie his home.
"Robert never did things the easy way out. He didn't want to take the escalators. He wanted to take the stairs," said Carl Kizer Jr., a friend of the Wilkins family. "I'm sure he'll be considered for a Supreme Court spot if one should open up and that will be so exciting.
"He is an amazing role model, not only for black children or children in Muncie, but for people all across the United States of America. He's a reminder that, in this country, dreams do come true. It takes hard work and giving back to your community, but they do come true."
Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com
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