To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court entered its landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools. This decision culminated a long struggle by African-American lawyers. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American United States Supreme Court Justice, and United States District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American female federal judge, are two outstanding jurists who helped make Brown v. Board of Education a pivotal case in American Civil Rights history.
Laying the foundation for enhancing cultural diversity during the next fifty years, the National Bar Association continues to build on its rich heritage of promoting equal justice under the law.
At our website, www.nationalbar.org, readers can learn about the NBA's past accomplishments and current activities.I would like to give one example of our national outreach that has had significant local impact.
I was honored several months ago to serve on a panel with E. Christopher Johnson, Jr., Vice President and General Counsel, General Motors National America; Elaine Drodge Koch, Partner, Bryan Cave, LLP; Donna M. Wilson, Shareholder, Polsinelli, Shalton & Welte, PC, and Timothy O'Brien, Partner, Shook Hardy & Bacon, LLP to discuss the economic realities of corporate America and how these realities impact the practice of law.
Our discussion was hosted by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. Under the outstanding leadership of the association's then president, Sylvester "Sly" James, Jr., a diversity pledge was signed by 26 large law firms in the city to increase the lawyers of color in their respective law firms.The National Bar Association, likewise, has since developed its diversity pledge with which to urge corporate law departments and law firms to increase their retention of minority and women owned legal service providers.
I encourage each reader to make his or her own personal pledge to promote and support the cultural diversity needed to make equal justice under the law a reality.