The Kings County court system and the Brooklyn Bar Association kicked off Black History Month on Friday, Feb. 1, with an opening ceremony featuring Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Central Brooklyn).
“We begin a month of exciting activities to celebrate Black History Month,” said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Barry Kamins. Surrounded by Afro-centric dolls dating back to 1913, the ceremony began with a processional of attending judges and a presentation of colors.
Rev. George Wade, Esq. gave a moving invocation; Wade is also the law clerk for Kings County Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash.
Brooklyn funk band Southside led the audience in the recitation of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Associate Appellate Justice (2nd Department) Plummer Lott introduced the keynote speaker Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
“Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting Jeffries in person,” Lott noted, “I am well aware of his legislative achievements.”
A former New York state assemblyman, Jeffries, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2012 election, is known for successfully sponsoring legislation that prohibits the New York Police Department from maintaining an electronic database with people who are stopped and frisked but not charged with a crime or violation.
Appreciative of the opportunity to speak in front members of the Brooklyn legal community, Jeffries was “honored to have the charge to reflect on the lessons of those that came before … Honorable Thurgood Marshall, Shirley Chisholm and Honorable Constance Baker Motley.”
Using the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jeffries noted that “the arch of the universe is law but it bends towards justice.” Following a mime dance performance by the DL Lundy Praise Dancers, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Lewis presented Jeffries with an award for his distinguished service.
“[The Kings County Courts] have been honoring the achievements of black folks since 1992,” Lewis reminded the audience. In the weeks to come, she continued, “We hope these events have their desired effect: to impassion us of our history, our present and our future.”