Friends & Colleagues Remember First Female Muslim Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam

Judge Abdus-Salaam attended Columbia Law School with former attorney general Eric Holder and was considered a trailblazer by many public officials. 

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was praised by friends and former colleagues this week after the 65-year-old was found dead Wednesday afternoon (April 12) in New York's Hudson River. Considered a trailblazer, Abdus-Salaam was the first African-American woman and Muslim to serve on New York's highest court.

READ: First Female Muslim Judge’s Body Found In Hudson River

In piece published by Mike Hayes of BuzzFeed News Thursday (April 13), those who knew the D.C. native called her a great role model with intentions to help any and everyone, especially the LGBT community and people of color. “Sheila was just a wonderful soul. She was a sweet soul — loving, caring, gentle person,” Ted Shaw, a former law school classmate of Abdus-Salaam’s, said. He also recalled memories where he would go to Abdus-Salaam's apartment with his former girlfriend for dinners when he was low on funds. “She had a wonderful easy way about her,” Shaw added. One of seven siblings, Abdus-Salaam landed in New York in the 70's where she attended Barnard College and later, Columbia Law School.

One of her classmates at Columbia included former attorney Eric Holder, who was present to watch Abdus-Salaam get appointed to the Court of Appeals. During the swearing in ceremony in 2013, Holder called Abdus-Salaam intelligent, witty and noted, "Sheila could boogie."

"Who knew that we would both attain such high positions, and that you would be the first black United States attorney general, and I would be the first black woman on the New York Court of Appeals?," he said at the time, reports The Times Union. 

Abdus-Salaam made sure to look out for those who faced discrimination with landmark decisions in Matter of Brooke S.B. v Elizabeth A.C.C., and People v. Bridgeforth. The former overturned a ruling that gave same-sex couples a disadvantage in custody proceedings if they broke up. In her ruling, she stated nonbiological same-sex couples had the right to custody choices  “by [presenting] clear and convincing evidence that all parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together.”

In the case of People v. Bridgeforth, Abdus-Salaam ruled that attorneys cannot axe potential jurors over their skin tone. “Defendant argues that, contrary to the people’s position, dark skin color is a cognizable class and, indeed, must be one unless the established protections of Batson are to be eviscerated by allowing challenges based on skin color to serve as a proxy for those based on race,” Abdus-Salaam wrote, per BuzzFeed News. “We agree with defendant.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo called Abdus-Salaam a pioneer in her own right. "As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," Cuomo said. "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."

Police haven't suspected any foul play in her death, and are currently investigating her death as a suicide. "Obviously, we're still waiting for the full investigation, but to the extent that the challenges and the stresses in her life contributed to this, it's a reminder that even the most accomplished people still deal with extraordinary challenges inward, and we don't get to see that," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said to reporters Thursday.

Abdus-Salaam lost her mother last year and her brother when he committed suicide in 2014. She was also recently stressed at work. Kaylin Whittingham, president of the New York Association of Black Women Attorneys, told BuzzFeed News she saw Abdus-Salaam recently and seemed okay. “I did not see signs she was dealing with anything,” Whittingham said. “You can never quite tell. Whatever it is, it was just really tragic and heartbreaking.”

READ: Chicago Police Make Arrest In The Murder Of Cook County Judge Raymond Myles

 

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Tory Lanez Sued For Alleged Attack In Miami Nightclub

Tory Lanez is facing legal trouble over an alleged altercation that went down inside Miami’s LIV nightclub last year. Christopher “Prince” Harty, an up-and-coming artist and Miami promoter who appeared on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami claims that Lanez attacked him last November.

The onetime reality star alleges that Lanez, along with his entourage and security team, punched and attacked him in the nightclub. According to reports, Prince claims to have suffered blunt force trauma to his head, neck, and chest, in addition to contusions, bruises and anxiety, as a result of the incident. He is suing for unspecified damages.

“They backed me into a corner, and once I was there, they started stomping on me, jumping me,” he recalled to NBC Miami.

He believes that the friction stemmed from an Instagram post about music. “They felt that I was insinuating that they stole the record from me, and I was just like, no, I would never do that, that was never my intention. I had no issue with him at all.”

A portion of the incident was captured on cellphone video. Prince stated that he knew Lanez prior to the run-in, and helped get him into clubs before.

His attorney, Marwan Porter of Porter Law Firm, called the violent incident “a chronic problem” with Lanez who is accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in July. The 28-year-old recording artist has yet to publicly address either incident.

Hear more from Prince in the video below.

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Cardi B Opens Up About Filing For Divorce From Offset

Cardi B took to Instagram Live on Friday (Sept. 18) to air out a few things about filing for divorce from Offset.

The Bronx rapper made it clear that she didn’t file for divorce as a publicity stunt to promote her upcoming album. “I’m not doing it for clout and on top of that I don’t need stunts to sell music,” she said. “I’m not [trying to] brag but don’t ever say I’m doing anything for clout. My first album is three-times platinum and I didn’t need no stunts to do that. My [“Wap”] single is no. 1 worldwide why would I need stunts to sell music? I don’t need stunts — [especially] when it comes to family — to sell anything, so don’t play yourself.”

As for the reason for the divorce filing, the estranged couple simply grew apart. “Nothing crazy out of this world happened, sometimes people really do grow apart. I been with this man for four years. I have a kid with this man, I have a household with this man…sometimes you’re just tired of the arguments and the build up. You get tired sometimes and before something happens, you leave.”

“I just wanna' be a free bird,” Cardi said after questioning whether people secretly want infidelity to be the reason for the split.

“I am the f**king clout,” she added. “I never needed anything. I never needed no stunts to sell sh*t.Why would I need anything to sell my next album?”

Speaking of the new album, Cardi has been indecisive about choosing her next single because “WAP” did so well. “That means that my second single has to be even better.”

Towards the end of her venting session, Cardi reiterated that she’s focusing on her work, and revealed that she's starting new business for her daughter Kulture.

 

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Barack Obama Announces Release Date For ‘A Promised Land’ Memoir

Following the mega-success of his wife’s Becoming release, Barack Obama is poised to debut his own memoir, A Promised Land, this fall. The former president made the literary announcement on Twitter on Thursday (Sept. 17).

“There’s no feeling like finishing a book and I’m proud of this one,” Obama tweeted while explaining that he tries to give an “honest account” of his presidency in the book. The release will also touch on “the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our division and make democracy work for everybody.”

There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. In 'A Promised Land,' I try to provide an honest accounting of my presidency, the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everybody. pic.twitter.com/T1QSZVDvOm

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 17, 2020

The highly anticipated and introspective release takes readers on a “compelling journey” and details Obama’s “improbable odyssey from a young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world.” Included in the memoir are striking personal details about his political education, as well as landmark moments from his first term presidency.

The Obamas secured the reported $60 million book deals around a year after ending their tenure in the White House. Michelle Obama’s book became the best-selling memoir in history.

A Promised Land is currently available for pre-order at Obamabook.com. The memoir will be released on Nov. 17.

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