It took a roster of prominent elected officials and notable residents to recite portions of Inez Dickens’s impressive resume and political ascendance during her inauguration as the new Assembly member for the 70th District.
An overflow crowd packed the auditorium last Thursday evening at the Harlem Hospital Medical Center to cheer on one of the community’s most enduring and endearing representatives. Many of them had witnessed—and voted for her—as Dickens moved from the entrepreneurial legacy of her father, to a seat at the City Council for the 9th District and later as deputy majority leader, and now on to Albany.
“She has been trained by the best, and she’s going to be all right,” said NAACP leader Hazel Dukes, remarking on Dickens’ career, which was highlighted by many of those mentors, including former Mayor David Dinkins and former Rep. Charles Rangel.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz began his words of praise by indicating how much he respected Dickens. “She is a strong voice,” he said, “and she has broken the mold. I love you, Inez.”
And that respect and love flowed incessantly from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who recalled Dickens’ “eye for details,” and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “She knows everybody, personally,” he said.
“She doesn’t need to be taught how to fight for her community,” said Keith Wright, who for 24 years held the seat Dickens will assume.
Dickens was not only a student, a mentee who absorbed the lessons from her political mentors, she dispensed them as well. “I learned a lot from her,” said Councilmember Anabel Palma.
Former Gov. David Paterson, a surprise guest at the event and introduced by mistress of ceremony Tina McCrae, said Dickens was “dynamic and outspoken,” and set the stage for the swearing in performed by Judge Tanya Kennedy, who expressed how much she trusted Dickens.
Dickens took the oath surrounded by members of her family, and it was evident to those in attendance of the proud legacy she continues, from her father Lloyd Dickens, a businessman and a former assemblyman, and her uncle, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Dickens.
“I follow your lead,” Dickens told an admiring throng, and they responded with an outburst of appreciation.
It was good to see so many young people in the audience and on the stage, particularly those wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “I am Peace,” and saluted by their leader and founder Iesha Sekou of Street Corner Resources.
“She’s the right person in the right place,” said the Rev. Shon Adkins, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church.