By Sherley Boursiquot
BROOKLYN, New York — Attorney Dweynie Esther Paul, the first Haitian American to be elected as a New York State civil court judge from the 2nd Municipal district, was inducted last Thursday at Mount Lebanon Baptist church.
Although Paul was “overwhelmed with gratitude,” she made it clear that the induction was not about her, but more about the “the bigger vision” of creating “justice and equality at the Kings County Court system.”
“Beni saw l’eternel, oh God is a good God,” Paul praised at the podium.
“I remember a time in elementary school when we were boat people, and as the years progressed we became engineers that built that boat. I remember in highschool when friends would say don’t tell anybody that you’re Haitian, and then Wyclef and the Fugees came along and made us cool. I remember being at Stony Brook and they would do blood drives and the sign would say in black and white, ‘Please come and donate your blood, we need your help, but Haitian people need not donate.’ Not to long ago, in black and white, it was still printed, ‘Nurses apply, but Haitians need not apply,’ and in the Dominican Republic, Haitian people are losing their nationalism. So it is a very relevant thing today in 2015 to be able to be the first Haitian American electrical district from the 2nd Municipal,” she said.
Paul, who did not run against anyone, told The Haitian Times although it was an open seat, she still ran as though there were eight people in the race.
“I still worked just as hard in the race because I was only competing against myself, my standards and expectations that I know that God set for me.”
Paul’s campaign manager, William Taharka Robinson, described her as a hardworking and diligent woman.To qualify for the position, Paul had to collect 1500 signatures within the 2nd municipal, which encompasses Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, and Ocean Hill.
“No one challenged her petition,” Robinson said. “When you go to a courtroom, you want to see a judge that reflects you and reflect your community that has an understanding and can identify what transpires in your community.”
One of Paul’s colleagues, Annel-Stephan Norgaisse president-elect of the Haitian-American Lawyers Association of New York, described Paul as a “community woman.”
He told the audience that one day they were hastily coming out of King’s County Supreme Court and a homeless woman approached Paul. Despite her full agenda, she stopped to call a shelter for the woman.
“When a person does that for the homeless, you already know what kind of a person you are dealing with. Someone who would stand for the highs and lows of the community, and build all the issues of the community,” he said.
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte who refers to Paul as her sister, said Paul was once her fundraiser chair and then her campaign manager in 2012. Bichotte losing the election that year, said she was thankful that Paul have never left her side.
“She stayed with me through the end, when it was unpopular, when rocks was being thrown at us; when they were saying Haitians should not run…we got it all,” Bichotte said. “Dweynie stood with me, by me, and for me, and I love her for that.”
“Paul will make her place not only in the Haitian history but also the American history,” Bichotte said, while presenting a plaque to Paul.
Through all of Paul’s achievements, she refuses to bask in it by herself, indicating that her win is for the whole community, a community who she said, is very “civically engaged and conscious.”
“It is about everyone; It is about every Haitian person that was denied, every African American person that was denied; it is about every Irish person that was denied; it is about every Italian person that was denied,” Paul said. “It is about every American dream that had my mother and father leave the shores of Haiti and come to America for a promise — a promise of a better life, for a promise of justice and equality; And today, that promise is realized to God be the glory.”