Black Law Students Association News

Black History Information: The National Bar Association

I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.  --Rosa Parks


The National Bar Association:

The National Bar Association was established on 1 August 1925 in Des Moines, Iowa. On that day, George H. Woodson and eleven other African-American lawyers, including one woman, met to (as stated in the association’s charter) “advance the science of jurisprudence, uphold the honor of the legal profession, promote social intercourse among the members of the bar, and protect the civil and political rights of all citizens of the several states of the United States.” Today, the National Bar Association represents the interests of minority lawyers and the larger minority community through its programs and resolutions. Given the widespread discrimination against minority groups throughout American history, the National Bar Association devotes much attention to protecting constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, America’s lawyers began organizing bar associations for the purpose of increasing professional standards and improving the public’s perception of attorneys. Moreover, business corporations increasingly sought out professionals with the competence to provide legal counsel in an industrializing society. Founded in 1878, the American Bar Association was the country’s primary organization for legal professionals, but in 1912 the association officially began excluding black lawyers when it became known that the group had unwittingly admitted three black members.

Denied membership in mainstream bar associations, black lawyers decided to form an organization dedicated to protecting minority rights and improving race relations within the legal profession: thus they formed the National Bar Association. Many of the association’s objectives were similar to those of the American Bar Association. By restating these goals in their charter, the National Bar Association’s lawyers drew attention to the American Bar Association’s failure, as a group, to promote equality within the legal profession and society.

The National Bar Association has argued that greater diversity on the federal bench is needed to maintain the public’s faith in the judiciary’s impartiality, reasoning that a racially segregated bench cannot fully convince the oppressed that all people are treated equally before the law. Under the leadership of Elmer C. Jackson, in 1960 the association persuaded both Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon to pledge to nominate an African-American lawyer to the United States district courts. After winning the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy promptly nominated Joseph Dolan, an African-American attorney, as United States deputy assistant attorney general and James B. Parsons as the first African-American U.S. district judge within the continental United States.

Since the 1960s, the National Bar Association has continued to promote the advancement of civil rights and civil liberties through the courts by filing amicus curiae briefs in cases where the interests of minorities and oppressed people are at stake. These briefs allow the association to articulate the concerns of Americans whose opinions the courts may not otherwise hear. As a national organization, the association has local affiliates in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Most of these affiliates conduct pro bono legal services and other volunteer work in communities neglected by mainstream lawyers.

Read more: National Bar Association - Blacks in the Law: Philadelphia and the Nation

February Is Black History Month!

BLSA invites you to join us as we celebrate Black History Month!  What is Black History Month?  Why Celebrate?  Here's some information from (

(CNN Student News) -- February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a federally recognized, nation-wide celebration that provides the opportunity for all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African Americans have played in the shaping of U.S. history. But how did this celebration come to be -- and why does it take place in February?

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.

- Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) on founding Negro History Week, 1926

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, considered to be a pioneer in the study of African American history, is given much of the credit for Black History Month. The son of former slaves, Woodson spent his childhood working in coalmines and quarries. He received his education during the four-month term that was customary for black schools at the time. At 19, having taught himself English fundamentals and arithmetic, Woodson entered high school, where he completed a four-year curriculum in two years. He went on to receive his Masters degree in history from the University of Chicago, and he eventually earned a PhD from Harvard.

Disturbed that history textbooks largely ignored America's black population, Woodson took on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's history. To do this, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He also founded the group's widely respected publication, the Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he developed Negro History Week. Woodson believed that "the achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization."

In 1976, Negro History Week expanded into Black History Month. The month is also sometimes referred to as African American Heritage Month.

Woodson chose the second week of February for the celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population: Frederick Douglass (February 14), an escaped slave who became one of the foremost black abolitionists and civil rights leaders in the nation, and President Abraham Lincoln (February 12), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in America's confederate states.

Because of his work, Dr. Woodson has been called the "Father of Black History."

FYI:  Dr. Woodson is a native Kentuckian!

Diversity Forum to Address ENDA

Keys to the Door: ENDA, Transgender Identity, and Community
September 29, 2009, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM, Room 275

Sponsored by the Diversity Committee and the Lambda Law Caucus, with the following co-sponsors: ACLU of KY, ACS, BLSA, Fairness Campaign, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, SBA, UofL LGBT Services Office.

A  three-person panel will discuss ENDA generally, the case for inclusion of transgender people in ENDA, and the politics of ENDA.  

This event is part of the UofL Pride Week celebration and will include a light lunch from Expressions of You (available at 11:30 AM).

Photo Gallery: From Prop 8 to SB 68

Diversity Forum Series: From Prop 8 to SB 68: Legislative Attacks on LGBT Families - April 7, 2009

Dean Jim Chen Christopher McDavid
Dean Chen opens the program. Moderator, Christopher McDavid introduces the panel.
Bryan Gatewood  Chris Hartman  Rev. Vernon Broyles 
Bryan Gatewood Chris Hartman Reverend Vernon S. Broyles, III
Panelists Panelists
The panelists engage in a discussion while a clip of an interview with Chris Hartman on “Kentucky Tonight” appears on the screen.
Nancy Baker and Miriam Schusler serve lunch Diversity Committee Members
Nancy Baker and Miriam Schusler-Williams serve lunch. Diversity Committee Members

Photo Gallery: Passing the Baton

Diversity Forum Series: Passing the Baton - Current and Future Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Louisville - February 24, 2009

 Photo Credit: Michael ben-Avraham

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Adreienne Henderson
BLSA President, Adrienne Henderson
Denise Clayton
Gerald Neal
Judge Denise Clayton
Senator Gerald Neal
Philip Bailey
Cheri Bryant Hamilton
Journalist Philip Bailey
Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members
Audience Members

Thank You from BLSA!

The Black Law Students Association would like to thank the law school's students, faculty and staff for the tremendous support of our Winter Clothing Drive!  Many bags of warm clothes were collected and donated to the Salvation Army, and those clothes will now be donated to needy men, women and children in our community.  Thanks again and Happy Holidays!