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Judge Mablean Ephriam signs autographs after speaking during the Black Expo Luncheon at Hoosier Park on Thursday.

Instead of making a ruling in front of a courtroom and on national television, former “Divorce Court” Judge Mablean Ephriam imparted her wisdom to hundreds of Anderson community members.

The Anderson chapter of the Indiana Black Expo held a corporate luncheon on Thursday at Hoosier Park, and Ephriam was the guest speaker.

Ephriam, who was on the television show from 1999 to 2006 and now travels as a motivational speaker, spoke to about 200 people, making them laugh, nod and respond in agreement, and murmur in thought.

“We have no control over our birth, but we have control over our lives,” she said.

“Young people have to have hope. Young people have to have dreams. Young people have to believe that they can become what they want to become.”

The former TV judge said that it is important to keep God and faith in our lives, and to make sure children grow up going to church.

“We need to return to our spiritual foundation,” she said, which drew applause. “We need to go back to the time when parents and families prayed together.”

Ephriam was the ninth of 10 children and grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of money, but had a lot of home. When she was 13, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and she pursued that dream with the full support of her parents. She received a four-year academic scholarship for her undergraduate studies and then in 1978 earned her law degree from Whittier College.

She called on parents, family members, friends, and even neighbors and community members have to take responsibility in raising local children – offering them support in good and bad times, encouraging them to stay in school and aim high, and help them succeed.

“Children need to know there is a better tomorrow,” she said. “When hope is lost suicide rates go up.”

The former judge said it was important for parents to lead by example, and that everyone should be courteous, polite, and kind.

After the event, people lined up to meet Ephriam and get their photo taken with her. Many also purchased her book, “Mablean’s Life Lessons: Tools for Weekly Living” and asked for autographs.

Ronald Winford, 79, Anderson bought Ephriam’s book, and got a personalized note in it from her.

“I’ve always watched the show (Divorce Court) and I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “Watching it, you realize how little people know about law.”

Winford said Ephriam’s speech was very informative and well-delivered. Several of her pieces of advice resonated with him.

“You have to encourage hope at much as you can,” he said. “And you should love your neighbor.”

Find Melanie D. Hayes on Facebook and @MelanieDHayes on Twitter or call 648-4250.

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