United States District Court for the
Western District of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Born: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-September 30, 1953.
Vassar College (B.A. 1974); Howard University School of Law (J.D.
1977). Judge Miles-LaGrange was appointed to the United States District
Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on November 28, 1994, by
Miles-LaGrange was raised in Oklahoma City's historically black
northeast side, just blocks north of the ever-present odor of a large
municipal sewerage treatment plant. She remembers the pride and
prejudice of years spent battling for civil rights during the 60's and
I can remember
Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a counterbalance to all of the civil
unrest with his commitment to non-violent social change. I can remember
seeing Clara Luper, Reverend W.K. Jackson and E. Melvin Porter, among
others, trying to integrate the Forum Cafeteria down on Main Street. I
can also remember the sit-ins in Alabama and the dogs. I have those
images. I can remember all of that.
Throughout all of
the social turmoil of the times, Judge Miles-LaGrange's parents,
Charles and Mary Miles, remained sources of great strength. She
considers her parents to be "two ordinary people who shared
extraordinary hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their two daughters."
Both educators, Charles and Mary Miles emphasized the tremendous value
of education and life-long learning. In particular, Judge
Miles-LaGrange recalls, "I got so much encouragement at home. . . .
Even when it was drawing a few lines on a piece of paper, you would
have thought I was Michelangelo. Whatever my sister and I did, they
were so supportive."
from law school, Miles-LaGrange worked for the United States Justice
Department (1977-79; 1982-83). In 1983, longing to return to her roots,
she went back to Oklahoma City and joined the Oklahoma City District
Attorney's Office (1983-86). Then, in 1986, Judge Miles-LaGrange
embarked upon a grassroots campaign and defeated a 22-year incumbent
for the position of Oklahoma State Senator where she served from 1986
to 1993. She is particularly proud of legislation she sponsored which
affected the quality of life for women, children and families
concerning measures which make stalking a crime, improving infant and
maternal care in Oklahoma, and affording minority contractors a better
chance to compete for state projects.
Miles-LaGrange's accomplishments are a parade of "firsts." She was the
first African-American to serve as a law clerk for a federal district
judge in South Texas and the first African-American woman elected to
the Oklahoma Senate. She was also the first African-American United
States Attorney in the State of Oklahoma, and among the first
African-American female U.S. Attorneys in the nation. With her
appointment to the federal bench in 1994, Judge Miles-LaGrange has most
recently become the first African-American federal district judge in
the six states which make up the Tenth Circuit.
Miles-LaGrange notes, "I don't want to be known as the first black. The
reputation on the bench I'll be working to earn is that of a competent,
prepared, fair and impartial judge."
Miles-LaGrange says that she is still very much motivated by her
grandmother's favorite saying: Good, better, best. I must work harder
than the rest until my "good" becomes my "better" and my "better"
becomes my "best."
aspiring lawyers to "academically prepare yourself, don't take yourself
too seriously, and try to live a "balanced' life."
Send this page to a friend