What a time to be a Black attorney in America. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a battle for the soul of our nation when I was first elected. Despite these challenging times, I am excited and resolute as I step into the role of being the President of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.
Our communities are at the crossroads of two pandemics. The first, a global health crisis that has highlighted the impact of systemic racism on our communities and has literally cost us our lives. The social determinants of health, the disparities created by systems that are not created to serve us, and the fact that Black communities make up the bulk of essential workers created a perfect storm for Black families who are burying loved ones daily due to COVID-19. The second, a demand for dignity and a transformation of policing in our communities that have people of all shades proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. The backdrop of all of this is an economic freefall that will impact our small businesses, large companies, and other safety nets that our families depend on. The past few months have been very difficult for all of us. As Black lawyers we are not strangers to challenges. The responsibility of this moment is one that we must shoulder together.
Despite all of it, I am hopeful. My optimism stems from the outreach that the MBBA has seen over the past few weeks from new and existing MBBA supporters who wish to collaborate with us. Many of you have reached out to sponsor the MBBA, partner with us on our various initiatives, to discuss your internal diversity efforts in candid, open conversations, and to listen to our recommendations on how to increase your efforts in the fight against systemic racism.
These conversations and the outreach from our community partners underscores the increasing need for the MBBA, now more than ever before. Historically, Black attorneys have been uniquely positioned to create and lead initiatives and movements that have expanded the rights of Black people in this nation. We have the knowledge and opportunities to help educate our communities, forge alliances with allies, and move the needle in the fight against racial injustice.
Prolific author Alice Walker once said, “[t]he most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
From law students, paralegals, legal analysts, diversity professionals and attorneys – we, the members of the MBBA, are a powerful group of individuals that can construct change for the Black community. Together, we can L.E.A.P. into Excellence.
You can L.E.A.P. with us by taking the following actions:
Lead – you can apply to chair an MBBA section, division, or committee, or plan a specific program in your area of expertise. Our members are always looking for ways to improve and create new opportunities for themselves. Contribute to their efforts by serving as a leader for the MBBA.
Engage – send us your thoughts; complete our surveys; become a member of the MBBA. If you are already a member, continue to be active and consider upgrading your current membership to a Lifetime Membership. Help us engage with our hardest hit communities and provide them with the services they need to recover from the damage of COVID-19.
Advocate – we need to be able to speak for all members of the Black legal community and our surrounding communities. Tell us what you need to help you advocate for our communities.
Partner – work with us to move MBBA initiatives forward, help us reinvigorate our existing initiatives and create new partnerships that will have a lasting impact on the legal profession.
In the coming months, we will roll out our plans that will allow MBBA to better communicate with our members and supporters, strengthen our existing programs, and launch new initiatives to help you engage with us and our communities in a simpler way.
We hope that you will answer our calls to action and join us on our journey to LEAP into Excellence. Together we will use our power to heighten the impact of the Black bar. Particularly during these difficult times, it is an honor to lead the Black bar and to continue the legacy built by my predecessors.
Thank you for your confidence. I look forward to working with all of you.
MBBA President (2020 - 2022)