San Diego

‘Never Give Up': History-Making San Diego Superior Court Judge Tells Youth to Dream Big

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San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp's story begins in National City where she was raised with a loving family with strong values.

"It was a very nurturing environment," said Trapp. 

It was in high school that she said she developed her interest for social justice.

"We had walkouts in the late '60s where we demanded an equal education and to have teachers that looked like us and textbooks that were current and up to date," said Trapp.

She was in ninth grader at Lincoln High School at the time. 

"That was a pivotal time in my life because we wanted equal justice and equal opportunities," said Trapp.

She went on to get her law degree from Georgetown University, but not before serving active duty in the Navy for five years. In 1985, she decided it was time to come home.

"It was good to come home because I love San Diego and my family is here," said Trapp.

Over the course of the next 18 years, Trapp practiced law at prominent law firms, the state Attorney General’s office, and San Diego Gas & Electric. She also volunteered for many civil rights groups. 

Then in 2003, Trapp made history as she became just the third black woman appointed to San Diego County's bench. She describes it as a bittersweet moment.

"It was wonderful in the sense that I made it but also sad that we're second largest [trial court system] in the state, third-largest in the country and we're only at three [Black judges] in 2003," said Trapp.

San Diego Superior Court is the third-largest trial court system in the nation but it wasn't until 1998 that the court got its first Black women superior judge. 

Our country still has a long way to go achieve gender and racial equality, Trapp said. For now, she advises young people to believe in themselves and reach for the stars.

"When you hit those barriers, those obstacles, just dust yourself off, keep going, because you will come out better on the other side,” said Trapp. “So never ever give up."

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