WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In honor of Black History month, WPTV is taking time to celebrate local African Americans who are breaking barriers and making a difference in their community.
Judge Bradley Harper, 44, Palm Beach County's first elected Black judge, is no exception.
The father of four is driven by his family, community, but most importantly his faith.
"It’s the foundation for everything that I do and it’s a source of strength for me particularly in times of adversity," Harper said.
He grew up in West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach working for his family's flooring business. After graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta, he went on to pursue the business of law.
"Having a law degree was something that I felt would add to my ability to be a good businessperson," Harper said.
He quickly developed a passion for the judicial system, which led to becoming Palm Beach County's first black lawyer elected to the bench in 2016. An achievement he obtained without a blueprint to follow. But instead of treating his run for office as a challenge, he says he turned it into a chance to make a difference.
"I really became fascinated with how our Constitution, our separation of power, our democracy, how all these things are affected by this important legal document that was ratified hundreds of years ago," he said.
Harper was later appointed to the circuit court where his passion for justice continued.
"For me the significance is that I get an opportunity to serve people in the community and I’m trusted," he said, "and I want to do my best to fulfill my obligations to my community and to thank the people of the community for trusting me with this important role."
His focus is now on streamlining the court system's services and serving as a role model for youth, showing minorities that anything is possible with a little faith.
"I always tell young people to remember that there is nothing more important than your dignity and your integrity," said Harper. "Those are things that your parents can't give you, those are things that you can't buy, those are things that you earn through the decisions that you make and there's a value to having integrity."