Judge Andrew Jefferson, Jr – A Real Mocha Dad

andrew-jeffersonLast week I attended the funeral of my friend Martin’s father, Andrew L. Jefferson Jr. He was the first black state district judge in Texas largest county. His legal career took him from receiving his Law Degree from the University of Texas law school in the 1950s before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (he was the only black in his class), to judgeships of local civil and criminal courts, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

At the funeral, scores of lawyers, judges, and politicians waxed poetic about Judge Jefferson’s many accomplishments. Every black lawyer in Texas owed a debt to him because he paved the way for them to enjoy the opportunities that they have today. I marveled at how reverently everyone spoke of him. But what surprised me the most was that I didn’t know what a legal giant Judge Jefferson was. To me, he was just Martin’s dad and that is what I admired about him.

I remember going to Martin’s house to watch Mike Tyson fights when we were in high school and college. Judge Jefferson, or Jeff as we called him, would smoke his cigar and relax while the rest of us were hyper over the match. He always had a calm confidence about him and never missed an opportunity to impart some wisdom. He often gave us young men this advice: “If you can’t explain it to your mama, don’t do it.”

After our college graduation ceremony, he took us to one of DC’s top-notch restaurant and bought us a bottle of Dom Pérignon. He did this to teach us that the finer things in life were within our reach as long as we worked hard and persevered.

Despite the demands of his job, he rarely brought work home because he wanted to spend that time totally devoted to his family.

“Everyone around town knows him as one of the great lawyers in the city, but he was my dad,” my friend Martin said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “That was what was so important. I loved him very much.”

As much as I was impressed by Judge Jefferson’s professional accomplishments, I was more impressed by his accomplishments as a father.

Stay Strong,
Mocha Dad

Question: Have you known anyone who was “just a dad” despite their fame or accomplishments?

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About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
  1. Wow…Judge Jefferson sounds like a wonderfully inspiring man and father. What an amazing role model he was for his son and you.

    I don’t know anyone personally that is “just a dad” despite his major accomplishments. But my husband comes to mind…he’s not famous, but man…he works really hard and does an amazing job (in sales…always on top in a tough industry right now). I often ask him about work and he’s always very modest – rarely sharing any accomplishments. It wasn’t until I dropped by his office one day that I realized the extent of his success at work (beyond his regular paychecks that we’re all grateful for) – his office was covered in awards! His boss even came up to be to tell me how much of an asset he was – his boss bragged on him for so long that my husband excused himself to go to the bathroom! Wow. I knew, but didn’t.

  2. Wow…Judge Jefferson sounds like a wonderfully inspiring man and father. What an amazing role model he was for his son and you.

    I don’t know anyone personally that is “just a dad” despite his major accomplishments. But my husband comes to mind…he’s not famous, but man…he works really hard and does an amazing job (in sales…always on top in a tough industry right now). I often ask him about work and he’s always very modest – rarely sharing any accomplishments. It wasn’t until I dropped by his office one day that I realized the extent of his success at work (beyond his regular paychecks that we’re all grateful for) – his office was covered in awards! His boss even came up to be to tell me how much of an asset he was – his boss bragged on him for so long that my husband excused himself to go to the bathroom! Wow. I knew, but didn’t.

  3. To answer your question about a man who is just a dad despite his accomplishments, my answer is President Barack Obama. I remember on New Years Day our family heard a rumor that First Lady Michelle Obama was expecting. The room went crazy for almost an hour. Everyone was talking about what that meant, from having a new born in the White House to how he’d share the time with Mrs Obama and three children, maybe a boy. It was obvious that he is the icon for the committed father, despite his global responsibiities.