In each young person, there is the potential of a great leader. In each great leader—lies the future of our country’s well being. This kind of affirmation is the foundation of building a stable and responsible citizen. No one knows this better than Chicago native and attorney Kim Foxx. If you were to take a look at her impressive resume, you will see that it will reflect her hard work, intelligence and academic talents in climbing to the top of her game. Foxx rose through the ranks of law school graduating from Southern Illinois University, to cutting her teeth as a juvenile prosecutor and supervising attorney in the juvenile justice bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office—to holding down the position Chief of Staff for Policy and Planning for Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle is quite impressive.
A few months ago, she made the announcement to step down from her appointment as the Chief of Staff to seek a higher post—the Cook County State’s Attorney office. The move was a bold one and some may think ambitious on her part to try to unseat Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, but Foxx is no stranger to a tough challenge.
Her childhood doesn’t read like the television script of the “Brady Brunch” or the fictional characters of the Huxtables, but having a determined mom and grandmother to motivate her over- shadowed her circumstances. Raised by a single mom, Foxx and her brother moved around between the Cabrini Green projects to the Austin community and at one point finding themselves homeless. Dealing with some of the challenges, as a young girl, she was a victim of sexual abuse and without hesitation, her mother sought professional help for her to heal.
“My mother was a victim of domestic violence as well. All of these factors we see in a number of the youth that come through the justice system. Our girls who have anger issues are unable to process their emotions around what’s happening in the home so the explode outside of the home,” Foxx said.
One of the changes that influenced Foxx was being relocated from her Cabrini Green elementary school less than two miles away in Lincoln Park to the LaSalle Language Academy. “It was a world of difference in terms of what your expectations were. They expected me to learn Spanish in third grade when kids began learning in kindergarten. There was not an expectation that I couldn’t reach. There was not an expectation that I could not play an instrument. They just laid it out for you,” she said. “You will do this, you will do that because they believed you could.”
That determination continued to follow Foxx to Lincoln Park High School where she began to build her oratory skills, joining the student law program. Foxx recounts, “I knew very early that I would practice law. We were always in court for child support. My mom would tell me, ‘This is the place where they make things right.’ I knew that I wanted to be a part of that. I want to be a part of making people do what was right,” she said. As a high school student, Foxx would participate I mock trials with fellow students being coached by professional lawyer mentors. One of the things she remembered, a teacher told her, “You can’t roll your eyes when people object.’ I said, ‘I do?’ The whole team said, ‘Yes, you do!’ So, to this day, I’m mindful of not looking annoyed or to roll my eyes.” Foxx laughs.
These are some of the things that Foxx discusses when she talks about how she was raised and the strong women in her life—growing up in one of the most challenging parts of the city at the time. She feels a deep connection between her past and her present as she dives into the murky waters of the political campaign trail.
“Right now, people see that there is a real need. The issue is bigger than the personality. We talk about ‘Justice or Else’, there is a real sense in this country that ‘Justice’ is not equatable. It’s just ‘us’ instead of ‘justice’. It hasn’t been difficult for people to stand up and say, ‘It’s time for change.’ I really think from the endorsements that are out there with more to come, people are tired,” Foxx said.
Her campaign endorsements have gradually started to build up a diverse mix of political leaders from Congress- woman Jan Schakowsky (9th District), Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, State Senator Kwame Raoul, Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers, Jr., City Council Black Caucus Chair Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer (6th Ward), Alderman Carrie Austin (34th Ward) and Democracy for America. Since mid-October, the Foxx camp has raised $200,000 and understand there is still a great deal of monies that will be needed to go up against the Alvarez machine and candidate, Donna More.
To Foxx, this election is more than just a soundbite or clever hashtag—it’s about engaging the communities that are most affected by disparities that are plagued by the criminal justice system. “There’s an obvious resonance with people in communities that have been affected by violence. If you go to the North Side, they also see it. For them, it’s a matter of what’s happen- ing to these communities? There’s empathy and also the county rises and falls by the last of our neighborhoods— its heartbreaking to see this.”
n addressing some of these disparities, Foxx contends the top three concerns that is a ‘must’ to address are focusing on low-level offenses which holds certain bias towards Black and Hispanic offenders. “How is it that we find certain populations that are ‘over represented’ in the jails?”
Police accountability is another priority in bringing some validity of trust between the community and law enforcement. “Across the board, there is a concern from the national conversation on Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown as well as Rekia Boyd. People are asking how come we never see anything happen to police officers? There’s a notion that the State’s Attorney office and the CPD are joined by the hip so you may rarely see police accountability,” Foxx explains. “People are frustrated by this.”
Lastly, she shares her growing concern over the gun violence and fear that has gripped Cook County residents. “We spend a lot of money on nonviolent offenders in our jails and the violence is ramping up. The question becomes, ‘You’ve locked up so many people. How come our streets are still pouring blood?,” she contends. “We’ve diverted our attention to thousands of little cases that the effort, time, money and energy to battle the big issues have been ignored.”
A wife and mom of two young daughters, Foxx holds these issues close to home as she seeks an office that will influence the future of not only her children but all children that reside in the county. This is not a responsibility she takes lightly. With her family in her corner, she reflects on the challenges that could’ve made her just another negative statistic but in fact made her a strong example of triumph over adversity.
“For me, I feel so blessed to come from where I’ve come from and given an opportunity to do something. I want to be able for us to have prosperous communities thrive because we are not throwing them away. It’s personal to me because I’m watching us literally throw people away. It has impact on communities, when you throw away a generation.,” Foxx concludes. “What happens when the fathers aren’t there or when the sons aren’t there? When we have policies that don’t fit the crime and people go away—they come back, can’t get a job or an education. We’re watching the destruction and doing absolutely nothing about it.” Kim is an advocate for change.