On Wednesday afternoon, the country lost New York Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam. The judge served New York state for decades as both a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan and later as an associate justice on the State Supreme Court's First Appellate Division. And in addition to investing so many years in New York's justice system, Abdus-Salaam was the first African-American woman to serve on New York's highest court. Now, the public is commemorating Abdus-Salaam and her legacy with tributes to show that she will be remembered.
Born in 1952, Abdus-Salaam wrote that she first became seriously interested in pursuing a career in law when she met civil rights lawyer Frankie Muse Freeman. According to Abdus-Salaam's biography on the New York Courts website, she was particularly inspired by the fact that Muse Freeman used the law to help others. And even years later, that spark stuck with Abdus-Salaam as she referred to law as "God's work" during a speech in 2015 at St. John's University. And the attitude that a judge can bring about change in society is exactly what America is so desperate for right now. You can honor Abdus-Salaam by sharing some of these tributes:
"Say Her Name"
"Hudson River" began trending on Twitter shortly after her death was announced, prompting people to point out that it's her name that should be getting the most attention. Multiple media outlets referred to her as Muslim, which she in fact was not. Headlines need to include her name to honor and respect her as an individual.
"Rest In Power"
Her legacy is definitely powerful.
Watch Her Tell Her Story
Learning about her is also a way to honor her memory.
"A Bright Legal Mind"
Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, on the passing of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam: pic.twitter.com/xYW1Of4VyM— Robert Harding (@RobertHarding) April 13, 2017
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore knew Abdus-Salaam as a colleague. She released this statement following news of her death:
"A Trailblazing Jurist"
Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist and a force for good.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 12, 2017
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies. https://t.co/hnic07Shp1
The New York Governor remembered Abdus-Salaam with kind words:
"A Beautiful Human Being"
Statement from former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman calls death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam "difficult to understand." pic.twitter.com/fdseyqTfnn— Alex Silverman (@AlexSilverman) April 13, 2017
Retired chief judge of the Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman emphasized that she was loved:
She "Made Us All Believe"
America's first ever female Muslim judge, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, body has been found in the Hudson River. No one is talking about this. RIP. 💜 pic.twitter.com/LTAucvtDvu— day 30 (@Johnaayyy) April 13, 2017
At the time a third-year law student at St. John's University, Amanda Baron described a speech Abdus-Salaam had given the students in 2015:
Remembering Her Career
History made today. Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam becomes 1st African-American woman to serve on the Court of Appeals: http://t.co/ocgCHzgHq9— Timothy M. Kennedy (@SenKennedy) May 6, 2013
She was appointed to the state's highest bench in 2013.
Remembering Her Monumental Rulings
Say her name...she's Sheila Abdus-Salaam & she was INSTRUMENTAL in helping LGBT parents gain the same parenting rights as biological parents https://t.co/dPwVVxEG9w— owen (@xowenm) April 13, 2017
She understood that LGBT parents are entitled to the same parenting rights as biological parents are.
"A Humble Pioneer"
Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Sheila Abdus-Salaam. She was a humble pioneer. My thoughts are with her family.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 13, 2017
The New York City mayor also expressed his condolences.
"Her Legacy Will Live On"
Lambda Legal Mourns the Death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam | Lambda Legal https://t.co/AeMaARYp02— Richard Allan Kent (@RichXists) April 13, 2017
Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal director of constitutional litigation, wrote of Abdus-Salaam's ruling on LGBT parents and nonbiological parents:
Now is an opportune time to learn from the life of Abdus-Salaam so that her impact on society may be continued for generations to come.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Abdus-Salaam was Muslim. This is incorrect. Her husband was Muslim, and she took his last name, though she never officially converted to Islam.