Rolanda Pierre Dixon J.D. ’80 served as keynote speaker at Mission College’s African American Celebration Luncheon, which recognizes achievements made by African Americans.
Pierre Dixon was the first African American assistant district attorney in the history of the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Clara County. In 1991, she established the first domestic violence unit in Santa Clara County, among many other accomplishments, retiring in 2011 after 30 years of service.
With humor and insight, Pierre Dixon led attendees through her musings on current events, early motivations for becoming a lawyer, and reasoning behind advocating for the domestic violence unit.
“Every child deserves to be raised in a home of peace—can’t promise them all a million dollars, can’t give them all a scholarship—but we can certainly keep them in a home where they’re not being abused, where their mothers are not being abused,” she said. “And for me, that was what I wanted to speak to.”
Pierre Dixon’s journey to becoming a lawyer was at times fraught with challenge. While attending Lowell High in San Francisco, her guidance counselor told her she could never become a lawyer because it was “too difficult.” It took her mother calling the school before Pierre Dixon was put back on the right track to support her career interests.
“I was lucky,” she said. Even though Pierre Dixon grew up in a single-parent household, her mother always made it clear “my girls are going to do what they need to do to be successful.”
Positive self-talk and years of hard work ultimately paid off for Pierre Dixon, who was over the moon when she learned she passed the bar exam.
“I cried from the depth of my toes to the top of my head,” she recalled. “In that moment, in that phone call, I had been told that my dreams had been fulfilled. I was an attorney and licensed to practice law in the State of California. I was 24-years-old.”