Hello GBA Members!
Our association has kicked off 2024 with tremendous energy and activity. In January, the GBA organized an Ask-A-Lawyer Day Event on Martin L. King, Jr. Day, honored Attorney Mallory Horne with the Pro Bono Award, welcomed Elon University School of Law Dean Zachary Kramer as a guest speaker at our January Member Meeting, and conducted our second CLE Lunch & Learn hosted by the esteemed law firm of Brooks Pierce. With no intention of slowing down, I invite you to buckle up for February—Black History Month.
As we commemorate Black History Month, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the pivotal role of Black lawyers in history. In fact, history has shown that Black lawyers were faced with dual challenges – confronting both (i) racial injustice in society, and (ii) barriers within the legal profession. Despite these obstacles, their contributions were instrumental in advancing civil rights in this country, leaving an indelible mark on the fight for equality.
Prominent figures such as Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, Julius Chambers and Henry Frye utilized their legal expertise to challenge discriminatory laws, dismantle segregation, and advocate for equal rights under the law. Likewise, Black attorneys in Greensboro, such as Kenneth Lee, played a similar and crucial role in the civil rights movement. The unwavering commitment and strategic battles fought by these legal giants and many others not only shaped historical court decisions but also paved the way for a more just and inclusive society. I encourage you to learn more about the Black lawyers in our state associated with the civil rights movement or otherwise by reading the article, “The History of Black Lawyers in North Carolina: Circa 1987,” in the Summer 2023 edition of The North Carolina State Bar Journal (https://www.ncbar.gov/media/730733/journal-28-2.pdf).
Therefore, I am excited that the GBA will hold its February Member Meeting at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Members will have the opportunity to tour this museum prior to that meeting. It is my sincere hope that many of you will join me at that time to reflect on the museum’s significant role in history as the place where four Black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (AGGIE PRIDE!) fearlessly refused to get up from the then Woolworth’s segregated lunch counter so anyone, regardless of race, could ultimately sit down.
Finally, Black history is a testament to the struggle for human rights thereby reminding us that the fight for equality transcends race, borders, gender, etc. and ultimately benefits humanity as a whole. I am proud to be a part of a profession that has been and continues to champion the fight for a more equitable future.
Happy Black History Month!
Gerald L. Walden, Jr.
GBA President, 2023-2024