The borough of Brooklyn and Clinton Hill’s Emmanuel Baptist Church toasted their honorary daughter last night, in an inauguration event fit for a history-making woman.
Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James was honored in the Church’s large and beautiful packed sanctuary for her role as a leading female figure in New York politics by the borough’s most prominent figures.
“Like so many, my career in government has been filled with fierce challenges and unexpected joys and unimagined opportunities. There have been those who try to question my credentials, those who questioned my commitment, who tried to hold me back, who tried to tear me down and destroy my spirit. But as my sister Gloria Gaynor said, ‘I will survive,’” said James.
James became the first woman, and the first woman of color, in New York State history to get elected state attorney last November. Brooklyn born and raised, James is the former city council woman from Fort Greene/Clinton Hill and most recently served as the city’s public advocate.
The Brooklyn native plans to fight for voting rights, reproductive rights, women’s equal pay, healthcare, gun control and many other issues going into her first term as the state’s top lawyer.
James will also look to fight against climate change, political corruption and anti-immigrant legislation.
“Armed with the power of over 1,800 lawyers and employees, across 15 offices, spanning 12 cities, the office of the state attorney general will leave no stone unturned. We are committed to taking on any force however small or large that will try to move and prey upon vulnerable and marginalized groups and residents of the great state of New York,” added James.
The celebratory event toasted to James’ dedication and history as a longtime community leader and political powerhouse included tributes from Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope), and former State Assembly members Annette Robinson and Al Vann.
“I am so proud to stand with her on her historic achievement as the first woman and first African-American woman elected to New York State Attorney General. Tish is going to be a champion for struggling families across the state. I know that under your leadership the AG’s office will do bigger and better and more important litigation for the state of New York and the people of this country. And I believe bigger and better things are in your horizon as well,” said Gonzalez.
“Attorney General Letitia James represents the theme of pioneering women from Brooklyn who challenged the status quo. She has demonstrated by her hard work, dedication and commitment to her family and community that she has the courage to represent us with dignity, intelligence and integrity. I am proud to call her my political daughter. She has kicked in the door and shattered the ceiling of hopelessness for all those girls who desire to serve,” said Robinson.
“Tish I am not at all surprised at the heights that you have risen because you were with me in office for a decade and you learned the system- you learned how to navigate, you learned the power centers, you know how things happen. And what you learned most of all, was that everything we did was for the people who put us there,” said Vann, who mentored James as she started her career in public service working for Vann.
James’ win was part of a Democratic Party clean sweep of statewide offices as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. were all easily re-elected. The blue wave of Democrats also saw the party convincingly take back the state senate majority.
“I am here to protect your rights, to seek justice on your behalf and that is a promise I make to each and every one of you. And I will keep you and your community firmly held in my heart and mind as I walk into work everyday. Then I will wake up, go into the office and sue somebody,” concluded James.