News Brief

The First Black and First Muslim Woman to Serve on New York’s Court of Appeals Has Been Found Dead

Trailblazing judge, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, was found dead in the Hudson River on Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve in New York's highest court was found dead in the Hudson River on Wednesday afternoon, after being reported missing by her husband the day before.


Abdus-Salaam was 65 years old, the medical examiner is yet to determine the cause of her death, which is still under investigation, according to the New York Police Department.

Abdus became an associate justice for the New York Court of Appeals in 2013. She served as a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan for 15 years starting in 1994, making her the first African American woman and the first Muslim woman to serve on the bench, according Zakiyyah Muhammad, director of the Institute of Muslim American Studies.

She began her career in the legal field at East Brooklyn Legal Services before being appointed Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Department of Law's Civil Rights and Real Estate Financing bureaus, reports CNN.

Several officials have expressed their condolences, and many have highlighted the judge's illustrious career. "She was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appointed her in 2013.

"She was a humble pioneer," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Her groundbreaking career and staunch dedication to promoting a fair judicial system, have left a lasting impact on her community.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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