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Op-Ed: Queens’ diversity shown in judge picks


The recent Democratic National Convention has filled us with hope for our country. In prime time, we’ve seen the diversity of the Democratic Party, its inclusivity and unifying nature, and the focus on justice that we all share. The historic nature of Joe Biden selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate shows our party represents Americans’ views on justice and effective governance.

As Democrats convened nationally to set a new course for our country, I’m reminded that all politics is local. A few weeks earlier, I joined fellow Democrats from across Queens to determine the future course of justice in New York State, and nominated Democratic candidates for NY State’s Supreme Court 11th Judicial District.

Our Queens values of progress, diversity, and inclusion in the pursuit of justice were evident among the attending delegates. Whether as first-time delegates — like Emilia Decaudin, who was also recently elected district leader, one of the first two transgender district leaders in Queens — or as veteran delegates, everyone was focused fairness and equality.

I was honored to welcome delegates and introduce Hon. Randall T. Eng as chair. He was the first elected Asian-American Supreme Court judge from Queens, and rose to become the presiding judge of the Second Department. Thirty years ago he’d received his own nomination to the Supreme Court. Queens has been a hallmark of progress for decades.

Those values were present as candidates for nomination were announced. Of the nine judges nominated, six are women, four are people of color, and all collectively represent Queens’ diversity and brilliance.

For instance, Hon. Lance P. Evans, is an Ivy League graduate, lawyer, professor, community leader, and an example of the excellence that comes from Queens. Or perhaps consider Hon. Michelle A. Johnson — a first-generation American, Beach Channel High School alum, HBCU cum laude graduate, and George Washington University Law graduate — who shows that the promise of our country is alive and well.

There’s also Hon. Karina E. Alomar, a St. John’s Law graduate, whose career accomplishments and awards, and track record of jurisprudence, can have anyone wondering how just one person can do so much in the name of justice. I was humbled to hear Hon. Mojgan C. Lancman say she feels blessed every day to be part of a community where a political refugee can rise to such an esteemed position.

I was equally encouraged by the nominees and delegates that evening. Each delegate spoke with conviction in support of these judges and each delegate showed up with a commitment to justice.

Conversations these days can, at times, be difficult and draining. Too many of us have felt the yoke of injustice for years. Too many of us have felt it even more viscerally over the last few months. It’s clear: justice requires constant pursuit.

It’s encouraging that no matter the difficulty ahead, young people will do everything they can to demand justice. We see that no matter the difficulty ahead, our communities will come together to survive a crisis that the president has failed to contain. We see that no matter the difficulty ahead, our party has nominated and is poised to elect an African-American woman as our vice president.

As history talks about the Civil Rights Movement, so too will they talk about today — what we have done to ensure Black lives matter and that immigrants have the right to pursue a better life in America. The camera of history is rolling and the viewers of the future will analyze what we did today to stand for liberty and justice for all.

Gregory Meeks is the chairman of the Democratic Organization of Queens County.

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