THE ICON: Miriam Waltzer
THE LEGACY: Miriam Waltzer grew up in oppression, and so she was determined to make life better for those who needed help. As a Jewish girl in Germany, she spent World War II hidden in a convent. She came to the United States when she married Bruce Waltzer, a civil rights lawyer. Given that background, she gravitated toward a career in justice, earning a law degree from Loyola University and in 1982 becoming the first woman elected to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. There, and later from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in 1992, Waltzer was more than just a gavel and a robe. She was a life-changer, stressing education over imprisonment for young offenders — and proving that you can be tough but kind at the same time.
THE ARTIST: Queen Hope Parker, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “What I noticed was that the defendants got younger and younger and less and less educated. I realized that I had the power to put them on probation and make education part of the terms of that probation. … What is so nice is that we can really turn these people around. We can give them a chance. It’s not much, but for most of them, it’s more than they ever got before.” — Miriam Waltzer, discussing in an Associated Press interview the Probation Education Program she established while a Criminal Court judge