Portraits at Volusia courthouse in DeLand honor diverse legal pioneers

Reired Judge Hubert Grimes introduces a series of portraits during the Path To Unity Project at Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

Portraits of five legal trailblazers will be on display at the Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand through Friday showcasing the diversity and determination they exemplified in their lives and careers.

The paintings of the legal pioneers were described by a trailblazer himself:  retired Judge Hubert Grimes, who was the first Black to serve as judge in Volusia County when he was elected to the county court in 1988. Grimes was later appointed circuit judge by then Gov. Jeb Bush.

The portraits were unveiled on Wednesday during a ceremony at the courthouse. The paintings depicted attorneys James Weldon Johnson, Anna Brenner Meyers, Larry Smith and James “Jim” Kracht and retired Judge Mario Goderich. 

Johnson was among Florida’s first Black lawyers and also wrote Lift Every Voice and Sing, which has also been referred to as the Black National Anthem. Meyers was the first president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers in 1951. Goderich was Florida’s first Hispanic judge in 1975. Smith was an openly gay attorney who worked on issues related to the LGBTQ community. Kracht was blind since birth and a leading lawyer on disability law.

Grimes said each of them faced challenges.

“So how do we say that we got problems?” Grimes said. “We should not, because that’s what they’re telling us, each of them in their own way are saying to us that no matter what the circumstances are, no matter the situation or difficulties that you have, have faith. I still believe two important things: have faith in God and put in the work.”