Judge Hinds-Radix given Diversity Trailblazer Award by NYS Bar Association
Brooklyn Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix received the 14th annual Diversity Trailblazer Award from the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Diversity during the start of the committee’s annual meeting in Manhattan on Monday.
“Sometimes you hear people talking about your life and you hear all of the things you’ve done, and it’s a tremendously humbling experience,” said Justice Hinds-Radix. “This puts me on a list with people who I hold in such high esteem. The things they’ve done inspired me to reach back and help others, and this is a reminder that I must continue to do that.”
Justice Hinds-Radix, who was born in Barbados, was the first administrative judge in the Kings County Supreme Court of Caribbean descent and the first Caribbean-born judge in the New York Appellate Division.
The judge explained that she doesn’t really consider herself a true trailblazer, crediting her parents and other mentors in her career instead, but said that receiving the award reminds her of the importance of her work in helping to mentor younger attorneys and judges.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could sit on the Appellate Division, but I saw people like Hon. William Thompson do it, and I realized that it’s something that I can and should aspire to,” Hinds-Radix said. “In my career I didn’t do all of these things to get this label, but now that I have it, hopefully it will help someone realize that they also can aspire to be where I am.”
The award presentation occured after Justice Hinds-Radix, who sits in the Appellate Division, Second Department, took part in the Constance Baker Motley Symposium where she and a group of judges and attorneys discussed diversity and leadership in today’s legal profession.
After a brief few words from NYSBA President Michael Miller, Justice Hinds-Radix was introduced and given the award by Hon. Cheryl Chambers.
In her speech, Justice Hinds-Radix talked about coming from Barbados and the importance of immigration in the U.S. She also talked about the recently deceased Justice Thompson, whom she called “a true trailblazer.”
“His death leaves a gaping hole in our community, especially amongst African-American attorneys and jurists,” Justice Hinds-Radix said. “Justice Thompson was a mentor to every person of color who was elected or appointed to the bench. He paved the road for many, and his contributions will be remembered for decades to come. It is very important to state that today, in 2019, there are no African-American male Justices currently sitting in any of the four Appellate Divisions.”
While she highlighted the need for further diversity in the legal profession, she also spoke proudly of Attorney General Letitia James, the first black person elected to a statewide position in New York.
“This is historic — not only because she is the highest-ranking female and African-American in our state’s government, but it has sent a message to the nation and the world that women are powerful and can indeed make a positive change in our society and in our nation,” said Hinds-Radix. “Tish [James] is the epitome of what hard work and sacrifice can achieve, and she is an excellent role model for all young women.”
Justice Hinds-Radix said that the best thing about receiving the award was having her husband, who helped to run her first campaign for the bench in 2001, and her three children Jovia, Jeanneate and Josyl Radix by her side.
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