Gentry sworn in as criminal court clerk today7:05 PM, Aug. 30, 2011
Newly appointed Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry Jr. took the oath of office Tuesday before a standing room only crowd in Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton’s courtroom.
Surrounded by his immediate family at the bench, Gentry talked at length about Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr., whose memorial service was scheduled later that day at War Memorial Auditorium.
He also thanked his family, the Metro Council and several others for supporting him.
Birch, 78, whose name graces the criminal courthouse where Gentry was sworn in, died from cancer Thursday at a local hospital.
“We’ve had our 30-minute ceremony,” Gentry said. “This should really be an A.A. Birch day.”
It was almost as though Birch, who started his career as a Nashville prosecutor and ended up as Tennessee’s highest-ranking judge, was there in spirit.
“He will never, ever be out of our midst,” Gentry said. “He is an icon. We talk about him being a trailblazer for the African-American community, but really, he was a trailblazer for all communities.”
Mayor Karl Dean agreed.
“I have mixed emotions today because of the loss of A.A. Birch,” he said. “I realize he would probably be pleased with this. There’s no greater tribute than what Howard Gentry has done. He’s broken down barriers as the first African-American Vice Mayor of this city and now he’s the first African-American Criminal Court Clerk.
“I know Justice Birch would have been proud to swear him in today.”