Editor’s note: Greater Union Life Center in DeLand is sponsoring Black History Month 2021 banners honoring 16 individuals who have made a positive impact on the city of DeLand, and Volusia County. The banners have been installed along Woodland Boulevard in Downtown DeLand, and The Beacon is compiling profiles of the individuals.
The Honorable Hubert Grimes — first Black Volusia County judge and Circuit Court judge
Hubert Grimes served as the first Black county judge in Volusia County and was also the 7th Judicial Circuit Court’s first Black judge.
Born in Polk County, Grimes came to Volusia County in 1980 to work, after graduation from law school. In 1988, he was elected as a county judge. He served in that role until 1999, when he was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the 7th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
Grimes said he decided he wanted to be a judge when he was a child, inspired by a popular television show.
“I used to watch Perry Mason growing up, and then of course I grew up during the days of the civil-rights movement. With a lot of changes going on in the country, I felt like I could help people, on one hand, and help our society as well,” Grimes said. “I like to think that I have, although I will say that I’m not yet finished. Hopefully I can continue to make some contributions along the way.”
As a judge, Grimes said, his experiences have been largely positive.
“Working with the other judges, I was well-respected; I didn’t have any issues that would have caused my dandruff to stand up,” he said. “It was a great experience. Did I have some days where people made some racist statements? Of course. I don’t let racists stop me. You keep pressing forward.”
Retired now from the bench, Grimes still practices law in Volusia County, and regularly teaches classes at the Florida A&M University College of Law. Grimes is taking a semester off, and in the meantime, working on his third book.
His first book, How to Keep Your Child From Going to Jail, was written based on his court experiences, and his second, Perspectives, is a collection of devotional messages. His third book, which he hopes to have out later this year, will be about his life and personal experiences.
Growing up during the 1960s, Grimes said he had many inspirations, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X, to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. With so many prominent figures, he hopes he can be an inspiration for people interested in practicing law.
Grimes said he is honored to be among the Black History Month banner honorees.
“Hopefully it will encourage other young Black students in particular to aspire to their dreams,” he said. “If Grimes can do it, why can’t I?”