“Anything is possible for a little Black girl from Hamlet,” Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry is running for North Carolina attorney general

On Nov. 10, Durham District Attorney, Satana Deberry, entered the Democratic primary for attorney general.

 If elected she would not only be the first Black attorney general but also the first female elected to the position in North Carolina.

With Duplin County attorney Charles Ingram now out of the running, she is left with two opponents for the primary: U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson and Fayetteville attorney Tim Dunn.

Deberry said she feels her background in criminal justice and life experiences surmount those of her opponents, and would better qualify her for the position.

“I have lived experience that no one else in this race has, I know what it means to have your reproductive rights in the hands of someone else and I know what it means to try to protect your children from environmental harms and want them to grow up to have opportunities economically, socially and educationally,” she said.

She also said that she felt the position is in need of “bold and experienced leadership.”

Jackson has served as an assistant prosecutor in the Gaston County District Attorney’s Office, a Major in the Army National Guard and as a North Carolina State Senator representing Mecklenburg County for eight years. 

He is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill School of Law and is known for his large social media presence and 2.5 million TikTok followers. 

Dunn is also a veteran, having served in the Marine Corps and as a U.S. Marine Prosecutor. He also served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1994 to 2019. 

Dunn is a graduate of Campbell Law School and his practice concentrates on Civil, Criminal and Military litigation.

Current attorney general, Josh Stein, who has announced his campaign for North Carolina governor, awarded Deberry an Attorney General Dogwood Award in 2020 for her work as the DA of Durham. The award is intended for individuals who are “dedicated to keeping people safe, healthy and happy in their communities” according to the NC Department of Justice website.

Deberry was elected as DA in 2018 after having practiced criminal defense law and serving as general counsel for the NC Department of Health and Human Services and executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition. 

“It was through that work that I started working with some folks who, in addition to their affordable housing and community work, were doing criminal legal system reform, and they had come to me about running for DA in Durham,” she said.

Originally from Hamlet, North Carolina, Deberry moved to Durham to attend Duke Law School after graduating from Princeton University with an undergraduate degree in sociology. She also earned a master’s in business administration from Duke Fuqua School of Business. 

After moving to Washington D.C. following law school, Deberry returned to North Carolina and opened her own practice. 

She said that her experience with criminal defense law helped her define key issues that she wanted to focus on as DA.

“Part of the reason that I left criminal defense, there wasn’t a lot of care about my clients [or] about the struggles that they had had,” she said, “They were overwhelmingly poor, they had mental health issues or substance abuse issues, or they lived in communities that made them particularly vulnerable to interacting with law enforcement.”

Deberry said that some of her most proud accomplishments as DA include using sexual assault test kits to be able to solve more cold cases than any other jurisdiction in the state,  reducing jail populations and reliance on cash bail and forgiving $2.7 million dollars in fines for citizens who have lost drivers’ licenses. 

She said that if she were elected as attorney general her primary areas of interest would include voting rights, racial equity, women’s reproductive rights, healthcare access in rural communities and drug crisis safety.

“I hope at the end of my term as attorney general will show that anything is possible for a little black girl from Hamlet,” she said.