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2016 Democratic National Convention - Day 1

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Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware: Today, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton held a press conference at Ezion Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church, joined by local elected officials, as well as faith leaders from across the state to praise Governor Carney for his appointment of Court of Chancery Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to the Delaware Supreme Court, the first person of color ever named to the State’s highest court. The desire for increased diversity on Delaware’s courts has been driven in recent months as the grassroots advocacy group, Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware, launched a campaign and platform to reform the state’s beleaguered judiciary.

While Delaware ranks as the 17th most diverse state in the country, it is one of 18 states that has never had an African American justice on their high court and is one of 13 since 1960 that has never had a non-white Supreme Court justice.

Earlier this week, Reverend Sharpton penned an opinion piece in the Dover Post calling for sorely-needed diversity on the Delaware Supreme Court writing, “judges in state courts fail to reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the communities they represent. Why is it that Delaware, a state of nearly 30% non-white individuals, has never had a person of color serve on their state’s highest court? Discrimination and systemic barriers are embedded in our nation’s judicial system, and lack of representation continues to oppress minority populations…It is not a coincidence that research also proves that broadening viewpoints on court benches leads to more equitable sentencing and confidence in our judicial system.”

Shortly after the piece was published, Delaware Governor Carney made history by appointing Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to the Supreme Court.

Following her appointment, Reverend Sharpton was joined by Bishop Todd Townsend, of The Resurrection Center; Reverend Dale Dennis, of Hoyt Memorial C.M.E; Reverend Alfred S. Parker, Jr., President of Methodist Ministers’ Alliance; Reverend Blaine Hackett, of the St. John Africa Methodist Church; Reverend Dr. Shirlyn Henry Brown and Reverend George Moody, of Ezion Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church; and Bishop Charles Amos, of the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church (UAME) to call for even more progress in diversifying Delaware’s judicial system, by replacing Vice Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves’ on the Chancery Court with a person of color.

Said Reverend Sharpton today, “After learning about the lack of diversity in the state of Delaware’s courts, I was determined to reach out and do something about it. I congratulate Governor Carney on this historic first step, but now the question becomes, who will be put on the seat Vice Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves rises from? There is much work to be done in repairing the institutional neglect of people of color in the courts in this state. We should be delighted about this moment, but we should not be relaxed. Diverse representation in leadership is a real issue affecting real people. Activists and pastors have been fighting for social justice for too long to not continue building on this moment. We must keep fighting forward.

“Today is a celebration of the appointment of Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to Delaware’s Supreme Court. My hope is that it also serves as a clarion call to the work of social justice, community reconciliation and racial healing in all levels of Delaware life. Historically, the Delaware courts have not appointed leaders representing our communities diverse cultural make up. Today is a first step in addressing that need. And now is the time to further the discussion,” said Dr. S. Todd Townsend, senior pastor of the Resurrection Center Church in Wilmington, DE. “Gratefully, we gather today to affirm and celebrate taking this important step towards exclusivity, leadership and fairness, and to demonstrate our commitment to closing the disparity gaps that have existed in Delaware’s most powerful judicial, political, social, educational and corporate systems. With this appointment, our leadership not only showcases, but empowers much needed representation of the communities we serve. Such representation matters. This day’s example serves to set a historic precedent: sending the message that gender, racial and ethnic diversity’s working together establishes better decision-making and better communities.”

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Civil Rights Activist Al Sharpton Rallies in Delaware to Praise Appointment of the State’s First Black Justice to the Supreme Court  was originally published on