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Fresno native, judge honored on eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
[January 21, 2013]

Fresno native, judge honored on eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan 21, 2013 (The Fresno Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Fresno chapter of the nation's oldest black fraternity on Sunday celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic speech by honoring a Fresno native who is living her own dream of justice.

Shelyna Brown, a 1988 graduate of Edison High School, is starting her second year as one of four black judges -- and one of the youngest -- to serve on the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

"I feel like I am living the dream," said Brown, 42, whose parents still live in Fresno.

"It's amazing to me that a little girl from west Fresno, with braces and glasses, just a few years later would be standing here the youngest Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County." About 50 people, including members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, celebrated Brown's accomplishments at a "Living the Dream" reception at the African American Historical and Cultural Museum in downtown Fresno.

The fraternity hopes the event will become an annual celebration that recognizes local people who continue King's dream of equality, said Robert Mitchell, a fraternity member and Brown's childhood friend.

Brown, who lives in San Jose, strives to better her Bay Area community and Fresno through volunteer work, speaking to high school students and more, Mitchell said.

"More than that, she's just a very nice person," Mitchell said. "To see what she's done at a young age is really a milestone." Brown became interested in law while growing up on the west side of Fresno. She said she wanted to help people who weren't fairly treated.

"I always thought 'who is on our side ' " Brown said.

Brown earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Davis and her law degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law.

She then spent 15 years as a Santa Clara County public defender before being appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve as a criminal judge in Superior Court.

"It has been wonderful," Shelyna Brown said. "It's been one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs." In keeping with the theme of the event, Brown told a handful of Edison High School students who attended the reception that the key to achieving your dream is to "be prepared, be courageous and have faith." And she commended the elders for standing up for their rights and paving the way for others to follow.

"Because you did what you did and because you were courageous, I am allowed to stand here," Brown said. "Every day I put that robe on, I have to make hard decisions and I remind myself I'm not here to be light, I'm here to be just and so sometimes I have to be courageous." ------ MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY EVENTS (All area codes are 559 unless otherwise noted.) MONDAY -- March through downtown Fresno: Assembling at 9 a.m., march begins at 10 a.m., St. John's Cathedral, 2814 Mariposa Ave., 284-6420.

-- Commemoration program: After the march at 10:45 a.m., Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 2425 Fresno St., 284-6420, 375-6749. Organizers ask attendees to donate canned food at all events. For more details:

-- Boys and Girls Club of the Sequoias March: Assembling at 10 a.m., march begins at 10:30 a.m., Boys & Girls Club, 215 W. Tulare Ave., Visalia, 625-4422.

-- Tulare County Alliance of African American Women birthday celebration: 10 a.m. breakfast, 11 a.m. march and lunch after, Tulare Community Center, 830 S. Blackstone Ave., Tulare, free, 687-9480.

-- National Day of Service, blood drive and canned-food drive: 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wawona Middle School, 4524 N. Thorne Ave., Fresno, 708-6922.

-- National Day of Service, food distribution for military families: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Manchester Center, 1901 E. Shields Ave., Fresno, 304-2687.

-- Yosemite National Park: Free admission day, (209) 372-0248.

------ ------ Holiday closures The following places will close or not operate Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day: -- Public schools -- Colleges and universities -- Cities of Fresno, Clovis, Tulare, Visalia, Hanford and Madera -- County, state and federal offices -- Courts -- Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera county libraries -- Tulare city library -- Post offices and mail delivery -- Banks -- Hanford waste collection The following places will operate on the holiday: -- City of Porterville -- Porterville library -- Fresno, Clovis, Visalia, Madera and Tulare waste collections -- Fresno Area Express (weekend service) -- Clovis Transit (reduced operating hours) -- Porterville Colt (Saturday schedule) -- Kings Area Rural Transit (Saturday service hours) -- Visalia City Coach -- Tulare City Transit -- Madera Dial-A-Ride The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6495, or @bonhialee on Twitter.

___ (c)2013 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) Visit The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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