[Michigan, Feb. 5, 2021]: Today we celebrate Black History month following the historic inauguration of Senator Kamala Harris as the first woman, first Asian American and the first Black Vice President of the United States of America. People from around the world watched as Vice President Harris raised her hand to take the oath and placed her other hand onto two bibles, one belonging to a close family friend and the second, to the great, first Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor swore in the Vice President and interestingly, both Justice Sotomayor and Vice President Harris have noted that they stand on the shoulders of Justice Thurgood Marshall. It is with great humility that I believe all Black leaders and all Americans stand on the shoulders of Justice Thurgood Marshall.

As we move forward following recent insurgents storming our U.S. Capitol in Washington DC., I am reminded of two of Justice Thurgood Marshalls most famous quotes;1) “History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure”; and 2) “Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice”. Black lives matter and Black history matters.

So, as we celebrate, we must stay on mission and keep the faith that democracy in America will again persevere against all odds. As our friend, gone but not forgotten, the great Federal Judge, Damon J. Keith, stated “Democracies die behind closed doors”. May this be a month of celebration of Black history and of a renewed fight for democracy, human rights and defending same as we honor those upon whose shoulders we stand, like Justice Thurgood Marshall and so many more. We have many pandemics in our midst, COVID-19, Racial Justice and Climate change are real, but as Americans we stand on broad shoulders. It is my hope our future includes shedding a light on our U.S. Constitution, the foundation of our democracy. May the mission of “we the people” endure and continue to shine brightly here and abroad. I am humbled and grateful for the privilege of serving as a Judge for over twenty-five years in Oakland County Michigan. Moreover, with great humility I say, Thank You Justice Thurgood Marshall for paving the way for so many of us.

Judge Denise Langford Morris, Dean of Oakland County Circuit Court
National Bar Association Judicial Council, Past Chair

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–The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) joins Americans of all backgrounds in observing and celebrating Black History Month. Black History Month begins on February 1 and ends on Feb 28, 2021.

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