NEW YORK – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor returned Thursday to the Bronx community where she grew up to see the unveiling of her bronze statue at a shopping center in the heart of the community.
In brief remarks after the likeness was unveiled, Sotomayor, 68, said it was “always so heartwarming” to return to the neighborhood and that she was “deeply touched" by the bust with the Bronx Terminal Market.
Sotomayor, who became the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court when she was sworn in in 2009, said she hoped every child who sees the statue of her at the Bronx market knows that she is a proud native.
“I love the Bronx. I love my community," she said.
The justice said she grew up a few miles away from the shopping center, which sits at the site of a former wholesale fruit and vegetable market that’s been a local neighborhood landmark for generations.
The bust, encased behind protective glass, has her name on its base. It is surrounded by panels that feature a short biography about the justice.
Sotomayor marveled at how much the sculpture resembled her, remarking on how curly her hair is and noting with a laugh that she seemed to be wearing similar dangly earrings Thursday as were memorialized on the statue.
“It’s quite amazing. Looks a lot like me,” she said.
“I think they may have improved on the original a little,” she joked.
After looking through the glass at the bust, Sotomayor spoke to about a dozen people gathered around and wistfully noted that her mother, Celina Báez, died last year but had she been there Thursday, "she would have been bursting with pride.”
Sotomayor posed with several local eighth-grade students who helped unveil the sculpture but did not take any questions.
The statue at the Bronx Terminal Market shopping center is near Yankee Stadium, home to the justice’s beloved baseball team.
The bust was sculpted by artists Gillie and Marc. Sotomayor called them "two visionary artists who share a passion as I do for community service.”
“I am humbled to be a part of their vision,” she added.
The duo also created a bronze statue of the late former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which was unveiled in her native Brooklyn last year.