Hon. Marva L. Crenshaw
Washington, February 24, 2020
Madam Speaker, I rise today to celebrate one of Florida’s most distinguished jurists - and one of the highest integrity. Judge Marva L. Crenshaw was born in 1951 in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, one of seven children. A child of faith, naturally reflective in her calm demeanor, she would epitomize a commitment to justice and the judicial temperament that would distinguish her service on the bench. She is married to Norman Campbell and together they raised their two daughters, Kalinda and Kamaria.
Growing up in the segregated south, Judge Crenshaw attended segregated schools during her formative years. She excelled in language arts and became inspired by the impact of the rule of law, an appreciation she acquired spending time with her grandfather as he attended his affairs in her small town’s courthouse. She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in 1973 from Tuskegee Institute, where she pledged as a Delta Sigma Theta and also became active in voter rights. She then achieved her childhood dream by earning her law degree from the University of Florida in 1975.
Judge Crenshaw began her dedication to public service as a prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office under Richard Gerstein in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She was hired by Janet Reno, who would later become the U.S. Attorney General. She served in that capacity until arriving to the Tampa Bay community in 1978 to join Bay Area Legal Services. She put her skills and legal acumen to work for families who often faced financial barriers to the courthouse and the legal system. She provided important legal services to disadvantaged neighbors across Tampa Bay and was named the organization’s Deputy Director a decade later.
In 1989, Governor Bob Martinez appointed her to the Hillsborough County Court. In 2000, Governor Jeb Bush appointed her as the first African American woman to serve on the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court. There she was assigned to civil, family, criminal and juvenile divisions – furthering her lifelong dream to serve the public and her community. In 2009, Governor Charlie Crist appointed her to the Second District Court of Appeal, where she presided until retirement in 2018.
Judge Crenshaw broke barriers and charted a course for others who are committed to equal justice to follow. She set the highest of standards in her courtroom and in service to our community to ensure fairness. While retirement marks the end of one chapter in her life, she continues to explore other opportunities to impact people’s lives through service.
Judge Crenshaw has been extensively involved in bar activities and was recognized as recently as 2019 with both the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Robert W. Patton Outstanding Jurist Award and the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers’ Trailblazer Award.
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Tampa Bay community, I am humbled to honor Judge Marva L. Crenshaw during this Black History Month for her many years of selfless service and leadership, and for being a trailblazer and a shining light for justice for all.