He was born in an inner-city Philadelphia orphanage. A combination of faith and perseverance propelled him to become bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
And Bishop Robert Wright is the only faith leader on the Georgia Supreme Court’s Committee on Justice for Children (J4C) committee. The 29-member committee’s goal: ensuring justice for children and families involved in Georgia’s juvenile courts.
Wright said he brings a unique perspective to J4C, because of his own life story. “Having been a ward of the state for a short time, when I see some of these kids and I see some of these cases, I see myself,” he said. “One of the best things we can do as Americans is to take in our children and give them better futures. A more just juvenile system is just one way to get that done.”
After graduating from high school, Wright served five years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter crew chief and a search and rescue diver.
While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., he worked as a child advocate for two mayors and for the Children’s Defense Fund.
J4C was created in 1995 to improve juvenile law and policy, according to the Judicial Council of Georgia. Its mission was broadened in 2017 to create better outcomes for children in delinquency and truancy cases, and to decrease the time children spend in foster care.
“The work is vital,” Wright said in an official statement from his diocese. “I’m committed to leveraging my experience and perspective as an adopted child, the parent of an adopted child and chief pastor to thousands of families facing the crisis of broken ties in my work on the committee.”
Since becoming bishop of the diocese, which has around 50,000 members in the northern half of Georgia, Wright has advocated for improving the lives of children, prisoners, immigrants and military members.
“This work is about respecting the dignity of every human being. So, I should help amplify and underscore that work,” Wright said. “Teens like myself were written off in our inner city and in our poorer populations. But kids have the gray matter, they can learn. I’m one example of that.”