Satana Deberry: Championing Justice with Law as Her Love Language

Satana Deberry, District Attorney for Durham County, North Carolina. Candidate for Attorney General of North Carolina general Election for the Democratic Party. Pictured on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (Photo by: Jerome Ibrahim)

Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

By Jeorme Ibrahim

Satana Deberry emerges as a formidable contender for the role of Attorney General in North Carolina, armed with a profound commitment to justice, equity and community advocacy. With a rich background in law, public service and community engagement, Deberry’s journey is marked by a relentless pursuit of fairness and accountability within the legal system.

Hailing from the small town of Hamlet, North Carolina, Deberry’s roots run deep in the soil of activism and social change. Raised by her grandmother, a stalwart educator and civil rights champion, Deberry imbibed values of courage, compassion and civic duty from an early age. 

“My grandmother taught me that if you want to see change, you have to roll up your sleeves and get involved,” Deberry reflects with a hint of nostalgia. “Those lessons have stayed with me throughout my life.”

Deberry’s path into the legal arena began at Duke University School of Law, where she gained a comprehensive understanding of the law’s impact on marginalized communities. “My education instilled in me a sense of duty to challenge systemic injustices and advocate for those who have been historically marginalized, Deberry said of her time at Duke.”

After completing law school, Deberry embarked on a career as a criminal defense attorney in her hometown, where she witnessed firsthand the inequalities and biases entrenched within the criminal justice system. “As a defense attorney, I saw the devastating consequences of systemic racism and injustice,” Deberry said. “It solidified my resolve to fight for fairness and equality within the legal system.”

Deberry has worn many hats throughout her illustrious career, serving as General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to her current role as District Attorney. In each role, she has remained steadfast in her commitment to serving the public good and advancing justice. “I believe in a system that prioritizes rehabilitation over retribution,” Deberry said.”We must address the root causes of crime and work collaboratively with communities to create lasting solutions.”

In her current role as District Attorney, she has spearheaded progressive reforms aimed at promoting rehabilitation, accountability and community engagement within the criminal justice system. “I believe in a holistic approach to justice that prioritizes rehabilitation and addresses the root causes of crime,” Deberry said. “By working collaboratively with community stakeholders, we can create a justice system that serves all North Carolinians.”

As a Black, queer woman, Satana Deberry’s identity profoundly shapes her approach to advocacy, infusing her efforts with a rich and multifaceted perspective. Reflecting on her upbringing in Hamlet, North Carolina, Deberry attributes much of her passion for social justice to her grandmother, a revered figure in her community. 

“My grandmother was a teacher and an activist, deeply involved in politics and desegregation efforts. She took me to political events from a young age and instilled in me the belief that direct involvement is essential for creating meaningful change, she says.” This early exposure to activism and community engagement not only instilled in Deberry a sense of responsibility but also laid the foundation for her lifelong commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities.

Growing up in a racially segregated town, Deberry witnessed firsthand the disparities and injustices that marginalized communities faced.  “Being raised in a small southern town, I saw the impact of systemic racism and inequality on people’s lives. It fueled my determination to challenge these injustices and advocate for a more equitable society,” she says. 

This formative experience underscored the importance of representation and empowerment within marginalized communities, further driving Deberry’s dedication to advocacy and social change.

Throughout her career, Deberry has remained steadfast in her commitment to uplifting marginalized voices and centering their experiences in the pursuit of justice. Drawing from her personal background and professional experiences, she emphasizes the need for inclusive and intersectional approaches to advocacy. 

“My identity informs my work and shapes my understanding of the issues facing marginalized communities,” Deberry says”I am committed to building a more inclusive and equitable society for all North Carolinians.” This unwavering commitment to inclusivity and equity serves as a guiding principle in Deberry’s advocacy efforts, driving her to challenge systemic barriers and advocate for transformative change.

In her bid for North Carolina Attorney General, Deberry’s platform reflects a bold vision for progressive change, including addressing systemic racism, police brutality and mass incarceration.

 “I am running to be a voice for the voiceless and to fight for the rights and dignity of all North Carolinians,” Deberry says”Together, we can build a justice system that works for everyone and ensures equal protection under the law.”