Black History Today: Pam Jones Murphy, leading with balance into an uncertain future

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.”
-Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Justice has been described as many things, yet in its purest form, it’s believed to be balanced. Often times being an African-American/Black person who interacts with or sits at the intersection of justice and Blackness, balance is indeed the greatest thing one can hope to attain. Yet, to lead into an uncertain future within that intersectionality takes courage, vision and an unwavering hope in a better tomorrow.

Pam Jones Murphy embodies that courage, vision and hope. A Seattle native, Pam attended Garfield High School in the historic Central District as well as the University of Washington, and she has spent her life in public service. Pam currently serves as the director of King County’s juvenile division, leading the balance she hopes to create.

The energy that she emits is indeed that balance, and in her presence her demeanor can often time be misconstrued. When your position requires the weight of young lives and the families connected to them, attached to politicians, policies and the managing of adults, to be anything less than consistent disrupts the ecosystem one tries to foster.

Yet underneath that calm demeanor is a brilliance and a heart for a community she is a part of and longs to remain in service to. In the last few years, Pam has, in her balanced, fiercely-yet-quiet way, been at the forefront of true systems change through the healing of the trauma inflicted by the system of justice upon youth, their families and the people within the very system she serves.

Pam’s ability to implement a new vision through healing, vulnerability and peace within a system and not be fully overtaken by the very thing she serves is a true testament of vision and courage. However, her balance is found not only in her service to the community, but within her own community as well. Whether avidly cheering for her Seahawks, throwing strikes and spares at a local lane or just spending time with her husband and family, she models that balance in all facets of her life.

It's been said that leading with certainty into an uncertain future doesn't require sight. It requires vision. It requires holding on. And no matter what happens, never letting go. Pam Jones Murphy sits at the epicenter of justice, striving to change it and, in her heart of hearts, change the way that the system dispenses it. Her evolution as a leader is what many in civic service desperately need, and this among many reasons is why Pam Jones Murphy is Black History, today!