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Albany Leaders Gather For Vigil After Death Of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Albany city leaders gathered for a vigil Saturday evening to honor the life and legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs, and County Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin, all Democrats, gathered outside the New York State Court of Appeals building on Eagle Street. It was one of several vigils held across the country for Ginsburg, who died Friday of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. A legal trailblazer and champion of women’s rights, she became the high court’s second female justice in 1993.

"There's just so much shock and sadness over the loss of somebody who did so much for women like me."

Sheehan says Ginsburg influenced her life and career path.

"She was named to the Supreme Court during my third year of law school. I didn't really get to study her jurisprudence in law school but I certainly benefited from her leading way. To even have the opportunity to go to law school, had the opportunity to be paid the same as a man doing the same job that I was doing when I got out into my career. And she is somebody who I have always admired and who will be greatly loved, but who is inspiring a generation much younger than I am, which gives me really great hope for our future."

Applyrs says she was devastated when she heard of Ginsburg's death. She received text messages that communities across the land were organizing vigils.

"I reached out to Mayor Sheehan and reached out to County Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin, 'and what can we do here in Albany?'"

Moments later Applyrs was addressing the crowd that assembled on the sidewalk, urging people to "yell out" any word that came to mind that characterizes Ginsburg.

"Brilliance. Change. Fight. Courageous. Persistence. Equality. Vigilance. Powerful. Brave. Strong. Equity. Dissent. Leadership, hope... Lord knows we need that. Small and mighty. Someone said sad. Woman, Perseverance, race. Compassion, honor, revolutionary, great, truth. Notorious."

A moment of silence was followed by a song.

McLaughlin said she admired Ginsburg's beliefs.

"I was reminded of something she said, someone asked her 'will you be satisfied when there's another woman justice?' She said 'no, I want all nine justices to be women. Nobody says anything because there's nine men. Why is there a problem if there would be nine women as justices?' So that's why we have to continue to fight for that. Let that be our goal. Because, if something happens when there' women in the room, it changes the outcome."

Also Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a statue of Ginsburg will be built in her native Brooklyn. The Democrat said he’ll appoint a commission to choose an artist and oversee the selection of a location for the statue. Vigils were also held in Ulster, Rockland and Westchester counties.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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