The Cosmopolitan Review

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 12/5/2013, 1:33 p.m.

It was a happy Thanksgiving celebrated with family, friends and comrades. There were dinners everywhere, and they were open to everyone—all in the true spirit of giving thanks for all that we have and even for what we don’t.

Happy birthday celebrations were as plentiful as the pumpkin pie, with the birthdays of Naomi Diane Brown, Krishna Tarter, Lanny McCallister, Bertha McGhee, Jerry Lord, Cornelius “Corny” Taylor, Burnell Hendricks, Kevin Miles, Tarrah Manley Smallwood, Jemel Manley Crumes and Sandra Matthison.

Congratulations to Judge Debra A. James, who was officially inducted as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court. The swearing in ceremony, hosted at the House of the New York City Bar Association felt more like old home week, as James is a well-known and very well-liked member of the Harlem community. The mistress of ceremonies was Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first Black woman to be appointed to a seat on New York state’s highest court.

Speakers at the event were Supreme Court Judge Fern A. Fisher, who serves as deputy chief administrative judge of New York City courts and director of the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program; Councilwoman Inez Dickens; Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer; Jay Waks, Esq., partner in the litigation department of Kaye Scholer LLP; David Rubin, Esq.; and Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright. Included as part of the program was the speech “Bangs and Whimpers,” given by the late Judge Bruce M. Wright (Dec. 19, 1917–March 24, 2005), when James was inducted as a judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York on Dec. 20, 1994.

Admired, respected and never forgotten, Wright served in New York City’s civil and criminal courts and was elected to the New York State Supreme Court. More than a jurist, he was also a lover of poetry and literary pursuits and was friends with Langston Hughes.

An author himself, Wright wrote about the role of race in the judicial system in his book “Black Robes, White Justice,” which won a 1991 American Book Award. A graduate of Lincoln University, he attended Fordham Law School and received his law degree from New York Law School. As one of the first Black men to work for Proskauer Rose LLP, he represented jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Max Roach. Most notably, Wright was made an honorary member of Princeton University’s 2001 class, 65 years after being denied admission because of his race.

What would a reception be without good music? This one was no exception, as the musicians were all equally accomplished. Harpist Brandee Younger received an undergraduate degree in harp performance and music business at the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Conn. His training included attendance at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz and work with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane to honor the music of the late harpist Alice Coltrane.

Bassist Belden Bullock attended the Berklee College of Music, where he is also a faculty member. He has toured with the George Adams Quartet, the Ahmad Jamal Trio, Ralph Peterson Fo’tet, Oliver Lake and Abdullah Ibrahim.