In honor of Black History Month, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed Assistant Prosecutor Sonja Furlow, Section Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit to talk about her career path and message to others.
Q: What is the importance of Black History Month and what does it mean to you?
Assistant Prosecutor Sonja Furlow (SF): The importance of Black History Month is that it provides national recognition to those African American individuals who have paved the way for so many other African Americans through their contributions in every facet of American life. Black History month is important to me because it also allows African Americans to honor everyday men and women who are making a difference in their homes and in their communities.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
SF: The following quote by Stephanie Lahart resonates with me:
Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Your thoughts,
opinions, and ideas are just as important as anybody
else’s. When you speak, speak with boldness and purpose.
Have courage, be confident, and always be true to yourself! Live your life fearlessly!
Your voice has GREAT power; don’t be afraid to utilize it when needed.
You’re NOT an angry Black woman; you are a woman who has something
important to say. Your voice matters and so do YOU.”
Q: What inspired you to get into the career path you’re in?
SF: I always knew that that I wanted to practice criminal law and become a prosecutor. In 1998 when I became an assistant prosecutor, drug usage and violent crimes were at an all-time-high. I wanted to protect victims of crime and help fight for justice. It was never a question in my mind that the only way to accomplish my goals was to be on the side of justice. Being a prosecutor was so much a part of my ideal career path that when I resigned from the Prosecutor’s Office in 2005 to travel abroad with my family, I had the incredible blessing to be re-hired in 2013.
Q: What advice do you have to the younger generations on how to navigate and succeed in an ever-challenging world?
SF: Go to school and work hard. Try to find someone whom you admire and want to emulate and ask him or her to mentor you.
Q: According to the American Bar Association’s 2019 Profile of the Legal Profession, only 36% of lawyers are women up from 31% in 2009. Of the entire population of lawyers, only 5% are African American and that statistic hasn’t changed in 10 years. What does it mean to you to be an African American woman practicing law and what would you say to young African American girls who want to be like you when they grow up?
SF: I wish there were more African Americans in this profession. I believe African American women have to overcome different barriers and face different challenges than my counterparts; nevertheless, I love my job and I work with an incredible group of dedicated and professional individuals.
I would tell young African American girls who want to grow up and be like me to make no mistake, you will encounter obstacles and nay-sayers. When you do, think of the obstacles as merely bumps in the road and don’t let the bumps deter you. If anyone tells you that you don’t belong or that you won’t accomplish your goals, let it motivate you to prove them wrong and not break your self confidence.
Q: What is the proudest moment of your career and why?
SF: The proudest moments of my career have been when I’ve secured guilty verdicts in cases involving Domestic Violence. I couldn’t have been more proud of what I do. The victims and their families were ever so thankful, grateful and complimentary to myself and other members of the CCPO family. These are courageous women who I still keep in contact with.
News Coverage of AP Furlow’s Work:
AP Furlow Highlights Newly Offered Temporary Restraining Orders During Pandemic – The Sun Newspapers
To read more about AP Furlow’s work, click here.