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Legal Community Celebrates Black History Month, ABA Launches 'Challenges' Webinar

Climate change, taxes and voting rights are among some of the topics that will be covered during the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Black History Month webinar series. The events will take place throughout the month and will be scattered over the course of nine days, according to information from ABA.

The series is titled, “The Challenges that African Americans Face in the 21st Century," and will be hosted by the trade group’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. The series “delves into the civil rights and social justice issues that African Americans continue to face 53 years after the height of the Civil Rights Movement.” The scope of the series is broad, notes organizers.

Topics include the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich., the Dakota Access Pipeline, the destruction of tribal burial grounds for the southern border wall, and COVID-19 in terms of higher pollution and infection rates among people of color. 

The Series at a Glance

  • Wednesday, Feb. 3: “When Race and the Environment Collide: The Impact of Systemic Racism on Environmental Justice”
  • Thursday, Feb. 4: “Belly of the Beast”
  • Friday, Feb. 5: “#BlackTaxpayersMatter: Intersection of Race, Tax Systems, Laws and Enforcement”
  • Tuesday, Feb. 9: “Reparations Roundtable”
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10: “The Challenges in Providing COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Distribution for African American Communities”
  • Thursday, Feb. 11: “Restoration of Voting Rights: The Elimination of Felony Disenfranchisement”
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23: “Racial Disparities and Criminal Justice: A Conversation with Cheri Beasley and Ted Shaw”
  • Thursday, Feb. 25: “#BlackEconomistsMatter: Economic Justice Recommendations for the Biden Administration”
  • Friday, Feb. 26: “Climate Effects on Communities of Color”

Recently, ABA President Patricia Lee Refo spoke to the importance of the “rule of law” with respect to delivering social justice. Refo, discussing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., specifically spoke about King’s support of nonviolent resistance to systemic racism as point of note.

“The rule of law is a powerful, nonviolent tool for achieving justice. As we pursue justice for all, we are deeply indebted to trailblazers like Dr. King who sacrificed so much, including their lives, to make the United States a more fair and just society,” said Refo. “As we have seen too vividly in recent days, violence is easily provoked but not so easily overcome. In his lifetime, Dr. King saw more than his share of violence–against himself personally and against others–yet he was persistent in declaring the virtues of nonviolent protest.”

Additionally, other legal and educational professionals will be honoring Black History Month with events around the country.


Washington Council of Lawyers @WashLawyers Feb 1

Black History Month"Today marks the start of Black History month. Throughout this month we celebrate and honor the many contributions of Black Americans to our country, and specifically to the pro bono and public interest law communities. #blackhistorymonth"

One such event will be sponsored by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. There, IU McKinney School of Law Dean Karen E. Bravo will deliver a one-hour virtual program on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The “Looking Back, Leaning Forward” presentation will “focus on key moments throughout African American history, while putting recent events into a broader historical context,” according to information from the school.

Bravo took over as dean in July 2020. She is the first person of color appointed as dean of the McKinney School of Law. “In 2020, America faced, among other challenges, social unrest and a re-awakening about the legacy of enslavement,” according to an announcement. “Anniversaries in 2021, including the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the 60th anniversary of the Freedom rides, bring more opportunities to reflect.”

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