Larry's Blog: Trailblazer AG Letitia James is 'still Tish' in her Brooklyn neighborhood

Larry C. Mullins
January 20, 2020 - 5:07 pm

It’s somewhat daunting: I’m sitting in my office at the studios here at WINS and the state's TOP law enforcement official comes in to see me…and I’m thinking, “Did I pay that library card late fee or answer that summons for jaywalking?”

Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James stopped by here today. And oh what an eye-opener, into the world of a career public advocate and what it takes to be a true servant. I knew about her role as the public advocate and City Council member here in New York. But I was unaware of her service as public defender for Legal Aid and her work behind the scenes to promote things like welfare reform, primary health care and predatory lending. She is a force! And wouldn’t you know, it came from her mom’s index finger. True Story. She says her mom had Parkinson’s and raised a shaky finger to her to point out a $3 shortfall in her social security check. James told mom, “Momma it’s probably just a few dollars interest or a new tax or fee.” Mom told her (as she straightened out her finger), “Challenge it!”

James says that’s all it took to set a fire in her belly to become a lawyer, activist and today New York's attorney general. She says she hasn’t changed from the girl known as “Tish” in the community. She still lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. She and I both promised not to delve into the headlines of the day, particularly as it relates to the current administration in Washington, which takes up a lot of her time. She says she advocates for New York, and there are a number of matters which impact our state, which makes it her job to remedy. But the conversation stops at that (pending litigation, you know how that goes).

But she says growing up in Brooklyn, attending public schools and then college (CUNY) before heading off to an HBCU (Howard in Washington to get her JD) has made her whole. She says she’ll never leave Brooklyn and gets funny stares when she’s out sweeping her own stoop! “I’m still Tish,” she says.

(And I’m still intimidated and in awe that the state's top cop came by here to see me...)