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Retired Supreme Court Justice will be guest speaker at King Breakfast

The Honorable Patricia Polson Satterfield

by Tom Chillemi

The Honorable Patricia Polson Satterfield, a Middlesex County native who became a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Queens County, will be the featured speaker at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at 9 a.m. on Monday, January 20, at The Beacon in Topping.

The ninth annual local celebration of Dr. King’s contribution to equality on January 20 is sponsored by the Middlesex NAACP and the public is invited. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children age 11 and under. Proceeds benefit the NAACP Freedom Fund.

For ticket information, contact James Bagby at 824-8085, Cynthia Beverley at 776-0238 or an NAACP member.

Justice Satterfield, who is retired and relocated to Middlesex in 2011, said she will be speaking on “recapturing the spirit of the past” and the values that were instilled in her as a child.

For Justice Satterfield, speaking at the King celebration will be coming full circle. “Middlesex is a very unique county and I found it to be even more unique the further I went away from it,” she said. “I will touch on getting back to our roots.”

Justice Satterfield is a native of Christchurch in Middlesex County where she attended Calvary Baptist Church and served as the church organist and choir director during her teen years. She was valedictorian of the 1960 graduating class of  St. Clare Walker High School, Middlesex’s all-black high school during segregation. While attending Howard University, she also served briefly as a substitute teacher at St. Clare Walker. 

She is the daughter of the late Dr. Grady H. Polson DDS and Thea A. Polson of Topping.

Justice Satterfield said her speech will reflect on “the solid values of our fore parents. What motivated them should be the same things that motivate us now, family and education.”

When she was elected judge in Queens County she became involved in a district attorney program called “Stop the Violence.” She spoke in schools in The Rockaways, a poor neighborhood of Queens County, seeking to inspire the children. “What I was pulling from was my own childhood experiences growing up in Middlesex,” she said. “I learned speaking and oratory as a child growing up in Middlesex, so that prepared me for a lot of the things that I did.”

Justice Satterfield was elected as a Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1990, becoming the first African-American woman judge elected in Queens County. Thereafter, she was appointed as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court in 1994, and was elected to that position in 1998.

Justice Satterfield received her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law in 1977. Upon her graduation, she began a new career path by assuming a legal position with the Counsel’s Office of the Office of Court Administration of the Unified Court System of the State of New York, where she worked in various legal positions, including the position of assistant deputy counsel, until her election to the bench.

Prior to entering the field of law, Justice Satterfield received a bachelor of music degree from Howard University, College of Fine Arts, and a master of music degree in voice from Indiana University, School of Music, and focused on a career in music with a special emphasis on operatic performances.

Justice Satterfield retired from the bench in January 2011 and moved back to Topping. She is married to Preston T. Satterfield and is the mother of Danielle N. Satterfield Williams, mother-in-law of Allan David Williams Sr., and grandmother of Allan David Williams Jr. and Aaron Nicholas Williams. 

posted 01.15.2014

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