Sligh Honored For Dedication To Duty
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, in celebration of Black History Month, presented last Wednesday, Feb. 20, the 2013 William Tucker Garvin Public Service Award to Executive Assistant District Attorney Jesse J. Sligh.
The William Tucker Garvin Public Service Award was established in 2001 when Brown held a ceremony to honor the memory of Garvin, the first African-American Assistant District Attorney appointed in Queens County. Since then, the award has been presented annually during Black History Month to an individual of African-American heritage in recognition of his or her notable contributions to public service.
“During Black History Month, we remember the many, outstanding achievements that African-Ameri- cans have contributed to the history of our nation and our county,” said Brown. “William Tucker Garvin was one such individual, whose accomplishments and service to others are to be regarded as exemplary in any time, in any season. He may not have purposely set out to spearhead social reform but in choosing to better himself and his family and to live a life with purpose he paved the way for future African-Americans who followed in his footsteps.”
“Equally, this year’s recipient, Jesse Sligh, is truly deserving of the honor that we bestow on him,” Brown added. “Not only does he embody Bill Garvin’s sense of spirit and dedication, but his own leadership and sense of public service over the years has motivated and inspired many and he continues to make profound positive contributions to the community of Queens.”
Like Garvin, Sligh was born in South Carolina, grew up in a large, close-knit family, and, at an early age, assumed the mantle of responsibility as a provider for the family and for the care of his siblings. Sligh attended elementary and high school in Philadelphia and was the first member of his family to attend college.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, Sligh went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center where he edited the Black Law Journal and was a member of both the Student Bar Association and the Black Law Student Association.
Sligh began his legal career serving his country as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. During his three-year tour of duty in Germany, he held various positions- including that of prosecutor, defense attorney, legal assistance office and chief of military justice- and earned an exemplary trial record.
Following his discharge from the Army, Sligh joined the Queens District Attorney’s office in September 1982, where he has served as a trial assistant in the Supreme Court and Major Offense Bureaus, deputy chief of the Felony Waiver Bureau, chief of the Intake Bureau and executive assistant district attorney for case processing. He was appointed to his present position, executive assistant district attorney for special prosecutions in November 1991 by the thennewly elected Brown.
Sligh has acted as a bridge between the District Attorney’s office and the people and cultures of Queens County and has developed specific strategies to fight crime in those communities. From the very beginning, he and his team have met with various community organizations and coordinated the investigation and prosecution of quality of life crimes-including prostitution, drugs and graffiti.
At the same time, he has created advisory councils-African- American, Asian-American, Jewish, Business, and Student-to foster an exchange of information between the District Attorney’s Office and those communities. He has also instituted other programs-such as a Law Enforcement Explorer Post, Operation Summer Fun, the Summer Youth Employment Program and Star Track -to educate the youth of Queens about law enforcement and to provide a positive structure for children who might otherwise head down the wrong path.
In his personal life, Sligh is a founding member of the Erie Avenue Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where he worships regularly and actively participates in its Sunday school and kitchen ministry. For more than 15 years, Sligh-who first visited West Africa in high school as an ambassador for the City of Philadelphia-has engaged in missionary work with the Village of Hope in Ghana, which supports and educates orphans.
Sligh is a member of the Queens Executive Board for the Boy Scouts, the National Black Prosecutors Association and the Queens Traffic Safety Board. He is also the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the CLIMB Lifetime Achievement Award, the Korean Transportation Association Distinguished Career Service Award, the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol Community Service Award and the Berkeley College/ Justice Resource Center Award of Merit for Coordinating the New York Statewide Mock Trial Competition
The Garvin Award was presented at a reception in the District Attorney’s third-floor conference room at his office in Kew Gardens and attended by Sligh’s family, numerous judges, public officials and assistant district attorneys.
William Tucker Garvin was born on Nov. 28, 1898 in South Carolina. Upon graduating from Orangeburg State College in South Carolina, Garvin moved to Manhattan where he worked in the post office while attending law school. He graduated from St. John’s University Law School in 1931 as one of two of the first African-American graduates from the law school.
He went on to establish a civil practice in Harlem and later moved to Queens where in 1943 he was appointed by the Queens borough president to serve on local School Board 50-the first African-American to hold that position. Garvin was appointed as an assistant district attorney on Jan. 1, 1952, and he retired after a distinguished career in July 1966, one month prior to his death. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens.
Previous recipients of the Garvin Award have included former Mayor David M. Dinkins, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, former Queens Administrative Judge Leslie G. Leach, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, New York State Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Juanita Bing Newton, former Gov. David Paterson, State Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott and Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall.