Forrest county court judge celebrates black history month with JCJC
ELLISVILLE, Miss - This is a press release from Jones County Junior College.
ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College’s Office of Student Affairs will be hosting its annual Black History Celebration on Thursday, February 11, at 10:15 a.m. in the JCJC Fine Arts Auditorium. The program’s theme, “'An Education that Makes a Difference,” will feature singer, songwriter, radio host, motivational speaker, author and Forrest County Justice Court Judge, Gay Polk-Payton to be the guest speaker.
“She is someone whom I admire, she's a friend of mine and my wife, Sarah and she has a very diverse background to support this year's theme, ‘An Education that Makes a Difference.’ Gay is very talented and she is not afraid of trying something new. I really wanted to expose our students, faculty and staff to hear her life experiences. It is my hope that everyone who attends will learn how to have the courage to step out to try something different in their life by allowing their education to be the foundational support for their journey,” said JCJC VP of Student Affairs, Dr. Samuel Jones.
The public is invited to this free event to hear Payton speaking on how her varied education has impacted her life. She has three degrees from three different universities yet she finds value in something “bigger.”
“The most valuable part of my education has come from understanding where I fit in the big picture and knowing how my knowledge and capabilities can help to make the world a less chaotic place. Conversely, if you allow the atmosphere surrounding your college education to have an internal, self-centered focus, what you gain in college can turn out to be a cluster of semester hours that won't benefit anyone...not even yourself.”
Payton has used her education to truly make a difference, explained Dr. Jones. In addition to various musical talents, she is a licensed attorney, an aerobics instructor and a Justice Court Judge, which gives her a wide range of life experiences and stories to tell, and sometimes with a melody.
The Hattiesburg, Mississippi native was certified to practice law in the state of Mississippi in September 1996 after completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans while additionally earning a Master’s in Business and a Juris Doctor at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) School of Law.
Payton is a member of the Mississippi, Magnolia and American Bar Associations, the Trial Lawyers Association, the Mississippi Justice Court Judge Association, the Hattiesburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, and she is past president of the South Central Bar Association. Recently she was able to add to her list of accomplishments as being elected as 12th district commissioner for the Mississippi Bar Association.
She is currently employed with the Forrest County Justice Court where she serves as an elected Judge, and is the owner of Polk-Payton Law Office. She is licensed to practice law in all courts in the State of Mississippi, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and in the United States Supreme Court. Payton has previously served as an adjunct faculty member in USM’s Human Performance and Recreation Department and she is a Certified Fitness Instructor.
The accomplished singer has also been writing songs for more than a decade but released her first single, “Real Man” on August 10, 2012. Both “Real Man” and the song, “God Gives Me” which are both written and performed by Payton, are featured in the movie soundtrack of “Blackbird,” directed by Patrik-Ian Polk with stars, NAACP Image Award and Oscar Award, Mo'Nique Hicks for her role in “Precious,” and Grey’s Anatomies', Isaiah Washington.
She has performed in various venues including an NFL Football game, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Coca-Cola Classic rodeo, USM football, basketball, baseball and softball games, ACS Cancer Walks, AHA Heart Walks, My Mother’s Heart Foundation events, the City of Hattiesburg Police Department’s Memorial, 9/11 & DARE programs, and at National Night Out Against Crime events.
The judge has spoken on a number of topics ranging from legal issues, leadership and motivation, to parenthood and relationships. She is the author of the book, “This Has Been a Public Service Announcement.” She is the daughter of the late Ollie and Fannie Polk and she is the mother of one son, Gaybriel “Kobe” Payton.