New York residents are shocked at the tragic death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam on Wednesday. She was a pioneer in the city’s legal system and defended the poor and disenfranchised with passion and commitment. She dedicated her life to upholding the law and making her city a better place for all its citizens.
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found dead on April 12, 2017, her body floating on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River in New York City. This happened hours after she was reported missing from her home in Harlem. Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a judge on the New York Court of Appeals. She was also the first African American and Muslim woman to be appointed a seat on New York’s highest court. Abdus-Salaam was also the first Muslim woman to serve on the bench in the United States. As news of her tragic death spreads across the nation, people are curious to know more about her. Here are some details from Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s wiki.
From Slavery to Liberation
Sheila Abdus-Salaam was born on March 14, 1952, in Washington D.C., where she grew up with six siblings in a working class family. She studied in public schools there and while researching her family history as a child, she learned that her great-grandfather had been a slave in Virginia. About her accomplishments and discovery, she later said, “All the way from Arrington, Va., where my family was the property of someone else, to my sitting on the highest court of the State of New York is amazing and huge. It tells you and me what it is to know who we are and what we can do.” Abdus-Salaam attended Barnard College, before studying law at Columbia Law School.
Strong Believer in Equal Rights
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was a pioneering judge on the New York Court of Appeals. She was the first black woman to be appointed to a seat on New York's highest court. Today, April 12, 2017 she was discovered floating, fully clothed, on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River, around 1:45 p.m. The New York Post reports that Sheila had been reported missing from her home in Harlem earlier in the day. Her husband later identified her body and the Post reported that there were no obvious signs of trauma or injuries indicating criminality or foul play, and that her death appeared to be a suicide. No official cause of death has been released… "Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all. She was a pioneer. Through her writings, her wisdom, and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing," Governor Cuomo said this evening. She received her degree from Columbia Law School, and rose through the state ranks before eventually being elected to the NY Supreme Court in 1993. She was then appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor Cuomo in 2013. Many lawyers and judges have been paying tribute to her this evening. She is remembered as a superb jurist and a wonderful person. She had recently remarried an Episcopal reverend. Our thoughts are with her loved ones and friends. Rest in paradise… ✨ #sheilaabdussalaam #nycourtofappeals #gonebutneverforgotten #restinpeace #gonebutnotforgotten #instamemorials #restinparadise
Abdus-Salaam worked as a staff attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services and was later an assistant attorney general in the civil rights and real estate financing bureaus. She was a New York supreme court justice from 1993 to 2009 and held several powerful positions in the New York legal system before her elevation to judge of the New York Court of Appeals. Abdus-Salaam was the first female judge to hold this seat. Her colleague, attorney Seymour James, recalled meeting her in the early 1980s when she was working in the Civil Rights Bureau saying, “She was a strong believer in equal rights and equal access to justice.”
Autopsy Report Awaited
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was married three times. She married her third husband, Gregory A. Jacobs, a Christian minister within the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, in June 2016. Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s husband was the one who identified her body after it was taken out of the river. The police are investigating how Abdus-Salaam ended up in the Hudson. She was found fully clothed, and officers said that there were no obvious signs of any trauma. Her body has been sent for autopsy to determine the actual cause of death.
A Trailblazer in Her Field
United States' first female Muslim judge found dead in Hudson River Sheila Abdus-Salaam looks on as members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee vote unanimously to advance her nomination to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals at the Capitol in Albany, NY, in 2013 CREDIT: AP Our Foreign Staff13 APRIL 2017 • 5:35AMAgroundbreaking African-American jurist who became the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge was found dead in New York's Hudson River on Wednesday, police said.Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a 65-year-old associate judge of New York's highest court, was found floating off Manhattan's west side on Wednesday afternoon, a day after she was reported missing, a police spokesman said.Police pulled Abdus-Salaam's fully clothed body from the water and she was pronounced dead at the scene.Sheila Abdus-Salaam, centre, receives applause after her confirmation to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals CREDIT: APPolice said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma, and they declined to speculate on the cause of her death. Her family identified her and an autopsy would determine the cause of death, the spokesman said.Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington, DC, became the first African-American woman appointed to the Court of Appeals when Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo named her to the state's high court in 2013."Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all," Mr Cuomo said in a statement."As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," he added. "Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.
Some people have speculated that Sheila Abdus-Salaam committed suicide, but there is no evidence of that at this point. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said, “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all. As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s court of appeals, she was a pioneer. Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.” The people of New York will miss her dearly.