Before the civil rights movement Alabama blacks faced discrimination on their way to getting law degrees and licenses to practice
By Kent Faulk, al.com
May 17, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - When he was going to law school at Boston University in the early 1950s Demetrius Newton had thought about not coming back home to Fairfield and face setting up a law practice as a young black man in the segregated South.
He had chosen over his father's wishes to go to Wilberforce University in Ohio for his undergraduate education - instead of his father's choice Morehouse College - for just that reason. "I had all the segregation I could stand, all of the back-end-of-the-bus and all of the black and white water fountains."
As he neared the end of his time in law school, however, a conversation with Willa Adams helped make up his mind. Adams was the wife of Oscar Adams, who at the time was one of the few African American attorneys practicing law in Birmingham and who would later become the first African American on the Alabama Supreme Court.
Willa Adams, who died in 1982, told Newton he was needed in Birmingham.
"She said D, I don't care where you go - as long as you're black you'll always be discriminated against so you might as well come home," said Newton, who is now in his 27th year in the Alabama House of Representatives, including 12 years as that body's first African American speaker pro-tem.
Many other young African American men did not come home after being forced to leave the state to attend law school.
Prior to 1964 there had been only 19 African Americans licensed to practice law through the Alabama State Bar, according to the bar. As of April, there were 1,098 African American attorneys - or 6.4 percent - who are members of the state bar.
But those few black law students who did come home in the 1950s and early 1960s were thrust into the position of point men in courtroom fights during the civil rights movement. Their battles led to overturning many of Birmingham and Alabama's discriminatory and Jim Crow segregationist laws and protecting the rights of protestors.
But before they could practice law, however, those men had to face a series of hurdles to get a law degree and their law license.
The latest American Bar Association consumer report on The University of Alabama School of Law, the state's only publicly funded law school, states that 8.6 percent of its students are African American.
"That's actually very high," said Jonathan Evans, the 2013-14 National Attorney General for the National Black Law Students Association.
Law schools nationwide reported 6.8 percent African American enrollment during the 2011-12 year, Evans said, citing ABA statistics. While the percentage is down slightly from previous years, the total number of African Americans enrolled in law school is at an all-time high of 10,452, according to ABA statistics.
Until the mid 1960s the University of Alabama didn't enroll black students at all. The Birmingham School of Law and Jones School of Law had been in existence since the early part of the century but were private. Cumberland School of Law, which moved to Birmingham in 1961, and Miles Law School, which opened in 1974, were church affiliated.
In its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled states could operate separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites. The later decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 erased separate but equal, however it would be more than a decade later before black and white students attended law school together in Alabama.
Before that change, Alabama had a few state black colleges. But rather than developing post-graduate schools for doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals, southern states including Alabama paid a portion of black students' tuition to attend post-graduate schools outside the state.
For young African Americans wanting to become lawyers, the state would pay the difference of the cost of tuition, room, and board at the University of Alabama School of Law and that of an out of state law school the students chose.
"They gave me railroad fare to go up there in September and then in June to come back home," said J. Richmond Pearson, who graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1958 and later became Jefferson County's first black circuit court judge in the Birmingham Division. Pearson was a defense attorney for the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who led many of the Birmingham civil rights protests.
Pearson also had been a classmate of King while at Morehouse College.
Many of the students attended prestigious law schools at universities like Harvard, Columbia, Boston, and Howard, "which worked out beautifully for those of us who went away," said Newton.
Not only were they good schools, but were also places where some of those lawyers would find some of the early contacts or influences for their later civil rights court fights.
It was at Boston University where Newton first met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was attending divinity school at that university and would later stay with Newton when he would come to Birmingham. Newton also worked on some of the cases involving King's Selma to Montgomery March.
U.W. Clemon, who later became the first black federal judge in Alabama and one of the state's first black senators since reconstruction, graduated Columbia Law School in New York in 1968. Columbia was the site of protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.
Clemon said that by his second year of law school Alabama had done away with the program to pay for blacks to go to law school in another state and blacks were being accepted in the University of Alabama Law School. But he said he chose to stay at Columbia.
During his second year in law school Clemon began working for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund under noted civil rights attorney Jack Greenberg --- the lawyer who along with Thurgood Marshall argued in the landmark 1950s school desegregation lawsuit Brown v. Board of Education.
I and many others stand on the shoulders of giants who had to do those extraordinary things," - Anthony Joseph incoming Alabama State Bar president.
Clemon, who had wanted to become a lawyer since he was 13 years old and said he witnessed police terrorize a friend to the point the friend urinated on himself, said he never really thought about not coming back to practice law in Birmingham.
J. Mason Davis, who graduated from the law school at the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1959, said he also chose to come back for his family.
Davis' family has operated Davenport-Harris Funeral Home in Birmingham for the past 114 years. The family also operated Protective Industrial Insurance Co. from 1923 to 2004. "When I was in law school, it was just assumed that I would come back and become the lawyer for the companies," he said.
Davis in 1984 became the first African-American president of the Birmingham Bar Association. He also was the first minority adjunct professor at The University of Alabama School of Law, serving from 1972 to 97.
Many black law students left Birmingham and stayed away and went on to prominent careers in law. For example, Cecil F. Poole and Joseph Jerome Farris both would end up as judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California.
Alabama officials during the time of segregation didn't want the young black lawyers to return, several lawyers added.
"I say jokingly say that they were hoping that once we had seen Paree (Paris) we wouldn't want to come back down on the farm," said W.L. Williams, who graduated from Boston University in 1959.
Williams said that attitude was clearly apparent when one young African-American graduate in 1960 accidentally received a letter from the Alabama State Bar regarding his request to take the bar exam. The letter had been intended for a bar commissioner by the same last name, who got the letter intended for the applicant, he said.
That letter stated that the bar wasn't going to let the applicant, using the "n" word, to take the bar, Williams said. The letter stated that "all they want to do is get on the NAACP payroll and sue us," he said.
Williams was among the lawyers who represented King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights during the 1963 demonstrations and sit-ins in Birmingham.
White law students at the University of Alabama had another advantage over blacks and others who had graduated from different law schools.
Prior to 1966, graduating law students at the University of Alabama were handed their law license when they got their diploma and didn't have to take the bar exam, Davis said. "It was known as diploma privilege," Davis said.
Segregated Bar Exam
Taking the bar exam also had been a segregated event.
When he took the bar exam in 1959, all the blacks were seated at the same table in an ante room by the bathrooms, Williams said. Everyone was given a number by the bar so that nobody knew your name or race, but obviously because they were segregated into the same room, that wasn't true, he said.
Arthur Shores, considered the granddad among Alabama civil rights attorneys, didn't leave the state to go to law school - except one summer in Kansas. He took a legal education correspondence course from LaSalle University, said his daughter, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Helen Shores Lee.
The first time her father took the bar exam he failed, Lee said. She said before the second time her father took the exam in 1937 he was tutored by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones, a white judge who founded the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery in 1928 named for his father.
Arthur Shores' father had been a contractor and had done some work for Judge Jones, Lee said.
At the end of his second bar exam, Lee said, her father didn't want to take a chance that his exam sheets - which are supposed to be anonymous - would be singled out. So when he went up to the front of the room he stuck his exam in the middle of the pile "so they might not have been able to tag where he had put his papers," she said.
"If he had just walked up and laid it there, someone could have marked it," Lee said.
Shores passed the second time around and in 1938 - long before the civil rights movement of the 1960s had begun - he had begun filing lawsuits that sought to protect or garner rights for African Americans, such as the rights to vote. He was only one of only a few African American attorneys practicing in the Birmingham area by that time.
Today there are 1,098 African-American attorneys who are members of the state bar - or 6.4 percent.
"I and many others stand on the shoulders of giants who had to do those extraordinary things," said Anthony Joseph, who this summer will become the second African American to become the president of Alabama State Bar. "They paved the way for us to be in the positions we are in today."
Fred Gray, Sr. had become the first president of the state bar in 2002.
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Angela Rawls, who spurred growth of Madison County Volunteer Lawyers, wins state bar association award
Brian Lawson, al.com
May 13, 2013
HUNTSVILLE -- The leader of Madison County's volunteer lawyers program will receive a new award from the Alabama Bar Association for outstanding community work, the bar association announced today.
Angela Rawls, executive director of the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program, will be honored as the Leadership Forum Section Alumnus of the Year.
When Rawls became executive director in late 2009 there were 30 volunteer lawyers and 26 closed cases. The group handles civil, tax and finance and family law cases, but does not do criminal work. Those who cannot afford a defense lawyer in a criminal case are provided an attorney by the state.
Today the group has 349 volunteer lawyers. In 2012 it closed 405 cases and assisted more than 1,800 people.
Rawls participated in the Leadership Form in 2010. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and received her law degree from Emory University. She was working at the law firm Wilmer & Lee before taking on the leadership position for the volunteer lawyer's group in November 2009.
"Angela has an understanding of the importance of servant leadership as demonstrated by her distinguished bar and community service work with lawyers who provide the poor and disadvantaged in Madison County with access to justice through the Volunteer Lawyers Program," said Alabama State Bar President Phillip W. McCallum. "During these difficult economic times, volunteer work by lawyers helps fill the void left by our underfunded court and legal aid systems."
Rawls credits a new board of directors and a revitalization task force led by Richard J. Raleigh for helping turn the program around. Raleigh is set to become the Alabama Bar president in 2014.
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Do Lawyers Know Best?
By Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal
May 16, 2013
When it comes to regulating the legal profession, why is it that only lawyers call the shots?
That’s the provocative question posed by Professor James E. Moliterno of Washington and Lee University School of Law, in a new paper appearing in the Emory Law Journal.
“The legal profession is ponderous, backward looking, and self-preserving,” Mr. Moliterno writes. “I recommend a more forward-looking approach that welcomes the views, and even control, of nonlawyers and innovators in business and other enterprises.”
To steer a better course, he suggests giving non-lawyers a turn at the wheel. This means, he says, letting them serve in leadership and policy positions at the American Bar Association, which sets the standards and codes of the profession. He thinks state bar associations should also open their doors.
Writes Mr. Moliterno:
Turning to creative nonlawyers presents the most advantageous way for the legal profession to grow and change on its own terms. Creative nonlawyers can predict and manage change that is likely to result from competitive forces. In the United States, changes made by the profession itself are highly likely to dampen pressure for change dictated by government. In the absence of self-reform, change will be effected either by government or the forces of competition.
What would we expect to see under more “inclusive” governance?
“Lawyers still function on the state-by-state licensure system. A lawyer cannot walk across the line from Ohio to Pennsylvania and engage in law practice,” Mr. Moliterno tells Law Blog, as an example. “We would either move to a national law license or a very relaxed form of admission-on-motion system, allowing lawyers to much more freely cross borders.”
He also predicts a relaxing of the rules that require law firms to be owned by lawyers. At the moment, the District of Columbia is the only U.S. jurisdiction that allows non-lawyer ownership, according to an ABA news memo from last year. The prohibition stems from concerns about confidentiality and independence. The ABA declined to comment on Thursday.
“If there were some nonlawyer ownership of law firms, or more generally legal services delivery, the owners would find it in their business interests for the lawyers to have insurance and follow the ethics rules,” said Mr. Moliterno, who just wrote a book on a similar theme.
The professor also predicts that non-lawyers would encourage the growth of legal services geared toward middle and low income people. “Entities like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer would flourish rather than be sued for unauthorized practice of law. Much more creative systems of service delivery would be pioneered without the resistance of the legal profession,” he said.
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Editorial: Matter of priorities - Moore’s idea of taking money away from education is foolish
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore last week bemoaned the budgets cuts absorbed by the judicial branch in recent years. Even though the 2014 budget added more than $5 million to the judicial branch’s appropriation, Moore told members of the Calhoun-Cleburne County Bar Association that it in no way makes up for what has been lost in the past decade.
Since there is little or no sentiment in the state Legislature for finding new ways to finance essential services, where would the chief justice get the money the court system needs? From education.
Moore suggested that the $9.4 million set aside to expand the voluntary preschool program for 4-year-olds should have been given to the judicial branch. The pre-K program helps prepare children for school, improve their academic performance and start them on the way to a better life — a life that that would not necessarily include involvement with the court system.
Moore pointed out that the pre-K program “didn’t exist the last time I was chief justice,” while the judicial branch is written into the state Constitution.
Without getting into the on-going battle about whether the Constitution does (or should) guarantee Alabama children an education, if one follows the chief justice’s reasoning, there are other programs and appropriations that did not exist a decade ago. Why single out pre-K?
Moore’s suggestion is questionable because pre-K gets its money from the Education Trust Fund and the judicial branch gets its money from the General Fund. Is the chief justice suggesting, as others have, that money should be shifted from one state budget to another rather than find a way to enhance General Fund revenue?
While the state’s two-budget system is not without its limitations, it does limit the ability of politicians to raid programs they do not like and put the money into pet projects. As surely as the Education Trust Fund protects education funding, the General Fund guarantees the judicial branch will be funded as well.
The problem, of course, is that in these post-recession times, neither of the state budgets are flush with money and Montgomery’s leaders have no stomach to raise more revenue. As a result, priorities have to be set and, based on those priorities, cuts must come.
It is hardly surprising that the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, speaking to a meeting of lawyers, would argue the cause of his own branch of government.
However, the solution he proposes — to take money from education, move it to the General Fund, and from there to the court system — reflects priorities this page does not share.
Late attorney John Caddell in hall of fame - Decatur man was ‘dean’ of state’s legal profession
By Ronnie Thomas, The Decatur Daily
May 3, 2013
Those who knew him best say John A. Caddell’s goal in life wasn’t to strive for personal glory and honor.
Awards just came his way as he sacrificed unselfishly for his beloved Decatur, Morgan County and the state of Alabama.
Now, more than seven years after his death, the man who practiced law in the River City for 73 years and was known as the “dean” of the state’s legal profession, is receiving another lofty achievement.
Today, he will be inducted into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame along with four other legal stalwarts. Only lawyers who have been deceased for a minimum of two years are considered.
The ceremony will be in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court at 11:30 a.m. The state bar will unveil the plaques of Caddell, William James Samford (1844-1901), William Logan Martin Jr. (1883-1959), David J. Vann (1928-2000) and Edwin Cary Page Jr. (1906-1999), which will be placed in the Hall of Fame on the lower level of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building.
Caddell, born April 23, 1910, in Tuscumbia, left an imprint on numerous industries and thousands of local and area jobs.
A local school bears his name. Banks-Caddell Elementary, built in 2006, honors him and veteran Decatur educator Athelyne C. Banks. Both died Feb. 7, 2006. He was 95, she was 98.
Tom Caddell, 76, the oldest of John Caddell’s four children, still practices law with Harris, Caddell & Shanks P.C. Jack is a federal bankruptcy judge in Decatur and his twin, Hank, is a Mobile attorney in environmental law. Their sister, Lucinda Bell, resides in Mobile.
“He would have loved it,” Tom Caddell said of his father’s induction. “He liked participating in things like that, and he earned it. Having that recognition kind of puts him down a little better in the history books.”
Tom Caddell said his father was “reliable” and “gave good advice,” and “that’s what I miss most about him.”
Morgan County District Judge Charles Langham said John Caddell is the reason he has been in Decatur since 1977.
“He put in a good word for me right out of the University of Alabama to a mutual friend, and I got a job as an assistant in the district attorney’s office,” Langham said. “Mr. Caddell was a lawyer’s lawyer. He is the type of lawyer everyone aspires to be when they enter the profession.”
Glynn Tubb, an attorney with EysterKey, agreed.
“Every lawyer that came into the Morgan County Bar tried to emulate him,” Tubb said. “He set the bar very high for all of us who came in contact with him. He loved the community in which he lived and it has benefitted greatly from the countless hours of service he gave to Decatur.”
Caddell, who graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1933, served on the university’s board of trustees from 1959 to 1979. Legend has it Caddell masterminded the plan to lure his former college buddy, Bear Bryant, from Texas A&M in 1958.
As a trustee, Caddell phoned Byrant seeking his opinion about whether the board should hire Frank Rose as president. Bryant knew Rose from their college connections in Lexington, Ky.
The board hired Rose. And Rose turned around and hired Bryant.
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5 inducted in the Alabama Lawyers' Hall of Fame
Written By Alvin Benn, The Montgomery Advertiser
May 3, 2013
The Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame on Friday added five new members — men with backgrounds that touched on the Civil War, 20th-century industrial development, politics and civil rights.
One helped found one of Alabama’s largest law firms while another brought about a change that led to the political ouster of Eugene “Bull” Connor, Birmingham’s segregationist public safety commissioner.
Inducted were John A. Caddell, William Logan Martin Jr., Edwin Cary Page Jr., William James Samford and David Vann.
Phillip McCallum, president of the Alabama State Bar, told the large crowd assembled in the rotunda of the state Supreme Court that each of the inductees “made an incredible impact on our state, and I think you’ll really enjoy listening to their stories.”
Relatives of the inductees spoke about accomplishments of the five men who followed in the footsteps of such notable Alabama lawyers as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson and U.S. Sen. John Sparkman.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who urged spectators to tour the facility, said the ceremony was being held “to honor some very important people.”
He mentioned their records during peacetime and periods of war, but, most of all, he cited “service to their fellow man.”
“I think it’s altogether fitting and proper that we should recognize them in this institution and install them into the hall of fame,” said Moore, who was pleased to note that Martin was a West Point graduate, as was he.
Caddell, who died in 2006, was active in a wide variety of activities and once served as interim president of the University of Alabama.
In addition to his military background, Martin became a founding partner of Balch & Bingham, one of Alabama’s largest law firms, and served for three years as Alabama’s attorney general.
Page, a lawyer for 71 years in Conecuh County, served in the Navy during World War II and was described as an “iconic image of the small-town lawyer.”
Samford was inducted as part of the Alabama State Bar’s “100 year” criteria. He was born in 1844 and served during the Civil War. At one point, he was captured and spent more than a year in a prisoner of war camp.
In addition to his law career, Vann was a political and civil rights activist who helped to change Birmingham’s form of government from a three-member commission to one with a mayor and council.
The transformation sent Connor, the city’s public safety commissioner who unleashed police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful protesters, into virtual political retirement.
Vann later was elected mayor of Birmingham, but lost a bid for a second term to Richard Arrington, who became the city’s first black mayor.
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Kids honored at Law Day program - Essays, posters earn students recognition
Written by Alvin Benn, Montgomery Advertiser
May 2, 2013
Students from across Alabama were honored this week for their essays, posters and social media designs as part of the annual Law Day program.
Sponsored by the Alabama State Bar and held at the state Judicial Building, the Wednesday event spotlighted the best of a record 750 entries from 55 schools.
Winners used their writing skills and artistic talents to focus their attention on the Law Day theme: “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.”
Alabama State Bar President Phillip McCallum said Law Day provides an opportunity “to celebrate the rule of law and how important it is in our society.”
McCallum said “Realizing the Dream” is a theme “that has as much significance today as it has any time in the history of our state and country.”
Proud parents and teachers joined the young winners during a program in the ornate room that houses the state Supreme Court.
Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees traced his personal history from a farm family to leader of an organization that focuses on terrorist and hate groups.
Dees said his journey toward a career in law was pushed by one of his teachers who suggested that he pursue that profession.
Most of all, he said, his teacher “wanted us to grow up to be good citizens” and let it be known that no one should consider taking up smoking.
Dees said in the 1940s “there wasn’t much she could do about the segregated society we lived in, but she did stress equality for everyone.”
“It all goes back to one thing in our country and that is something called the rule of law,” Dees said. “We live in a country that the law governs and not necessarily men and women.
“Sometimes they don’t apply it fairly and equally to all people, but because we have a constitution of the United States and the state of Alabama, it’s up to the lawyers to bring cases to protect the rights of citizens.”
Attorney David Rains, who directed this year’s program, said Law Day was formed in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower, designating May 1 as a day “to strengthen our heritage of liberty and justice under the law.”
Rains said he helped to judge some of the entries “and I can truly say how amazed I was personally of the creativity, of the hard work that each of you have put in, and you are to be commended.”
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Seniors participate in Law Day
By Sherry Digmon, Atmorenews.com
May 8, 2013
The jury and alternates, from left, front, Derrick Demond Brown, Morgan Danielle Waguespack, Anthony Morris, Thomas Austin Brown, Brendon Juanae Jackson, Tyrell Da’shun Ford, Josh Peebles; back, Hannah Fountain, Nicholas Tray Sutton, Chanydra Maria Campbell, Margaret Caroline Thomas, Tiffany Samone McReynolds, Christina Marie Gohagan, Jacinda Stahley.
Law Day is a annual event that gives seniors in the area’s six high schools the opportunity to participate in the trial of actual court cases in the Circuit Court of Escambia County, Alabama.
According to attorney Charles Godwin, who has coordinated Law Day for 36 years, “These are not mock trials. These are actual trials involving official prosecutions defended by persons who are actually charged with the offenses tried.”
Seniors attended over two days: May 2 – Flomaton High School, Escambia Academy, Escambia County High School, and Atmore Christian School / homeschool; May 3 – T.R. Miller High School, W.S. Neal High School.
Daniel White, President, Escambia County Bar, introduced the program, judges, attorneys and guest speakers both days.
The guest speaker Thursday, May 2, was the Honorable Lyn Stuart, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Alabama. Friday, May 3, the speaker was Clay Hornsby, Esquire, President, Alabama Association for Justice.
Members of the jury and the two alternates were Derrick Demond Brown, Escambia County High School (ECHS); Thomas Austin Brown, Flomaton High School (FHS); Chanydra Maria Campbell, ECHS; Tyrell Da’shun Ford, ECHS; Hannah Fountain, Escambia Academy (EA); Christina Marie Gohagan, FHS; Brendon Juanae Jackson, ECHS; Tiffany Samone McReynolds, ECHS; Anthony Morris, ECHS; Josh Peebles, EA; Jacinda Stahley, Atmore Christian School; Nicholas Tray Sutton, FHS; Margaret Caroline Thomas, FHS; Morgan Danielle Waguespack, FHS.
The Thursday jury tried the case of State of Alabama vs. James Marlon Smith Jr., who was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Honorable Bert W. Rice, Circuit Judge, presided.
Prosecuting attorneys were Jeffrey Todd Stearns, Esquire, Assistant District Attorney; and Katelynn Jones, Esquire.
Attorney for the defendant was Thomas B. Brown, Esquire.
Following deliberations, the jury found the defendant not guilty.
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3 high school seniors win college scholarships in Birmingham Bar Association essay contest
By Kelsey Stein, al.com
May 02, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Half a century after many attorneys joined the fight for civil rights in Alabama, Birmingham high school students wrote essays to address changes that are needed still.
An essay competition, open to all high school seniors in the Birmingham City school system, was organized by the Birmingham Bar Association's community education committee. Students wrote responses to the phrase: "Fight for your right to ________."
The winner and two runners-up received scholarships sponsored by local law firms and were honored Wednesday at a Law Day luncheon.
The committee received essays on various topics, including equal education, segregation that remains in schools, human trafficking, gay marriage and bullying, said committee member Conrad Anderson.
Cinnamon Callins, a senior at Carver High School, won first place and a $1,500 scholarship with her essay on fighting for "the right to be who you are."
"Regardless of weight, sexual orientation, or social classes, everyone has the right to not be harassed," she wrote. "Fight for your right to not be bullied."
Callins will attend Berea College in Kentucky, where she plans to study engineering to further her goal of becoming a patent attorney.
"I would love to be a lawyer," she said. "Since I was 10 years old, I've always loved to debate."
The runners-up, Aysatis Harris and Jhana Plump, are seniors at Ramsay High School. Both will receive $750 college scholarships.
Harris, who wrote about bullying, plans to study finance at Tuskegee University and then attend law school.
"This scholarship kind of sparked the interest (in law)," he said. "I've gotten to meet a lot of people in law who I can look up to."
Plump wrote an essay about promoting peace among her peers and combating gang violence.
"The essay contest was a good way for me to get my point across," she said. "I asked God to put the power in the pen, and I guess it worked."
Plump plans to study chemistry and math at Tennessee State University and ultimately become a pharmacist.
The 15 attorneys on the committee promote public education about the legal system through schools and community organizations, including organizing annual Law Day events, according to the bar association's website.
Law Day has been celebrated since 1958, when then-President Dwight Eisenhower established May 1 as the day to mark the nation's commitment to the rule of law, according to the American Bar Association.
Law Day teaches students equality
By Ashley Johnson, Selma Times-Journal
May 1, 2013
Law Day is a national day of observance dedicated to teach people the young and old about the entire legal system. For some, it is to inspire youth to enter into the legal profession and for others it is an education about what life is like once entering into the legal system as a criminal.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed Law Day 2013 Proclamation in March for it to be celebrated Wednesday, May 1.
Several Judges and other members of the Dallas County Bar traveled to Morgan Academy and Selma High School Wednesday for an assembly to present the students with the theme of this year’s law day — equality for all.
“I know there are some of you sitting here today who will be the future lawyers, judges, probation officers and work in law enforcement,” District Judge Bob Armstrong said to the students in the Selma High auditorium along with speakers 4th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins, 4th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson, Judge Collins Pettaway and members of the local bar association Woody Jones and Jana Garner. “I want some of you who are out here who are thinking about the legal profession to go for it go and be lawyers, go to law school, go to law enforcement academy do whatever you need to and have the heart to treat people fairly and with equality.”
The theme of the 2013 Law Day, “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All” is based on the speech, “I Have a Dream,” delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Garner, who helped organize the Law Day assembly told the students they should, “not let discrimination of others be a barrier to all of the progress we want to see in our community,” and read them lyrics from a Black-eyed Peas song, “Where is the Love.” She challenged them to put aside their differences and judgments about other races, religions and economic statuses so that the world would be a more just place.
Ozark Boy Wins First in State Law Day Contest
Southern Star, Ozark Ala.
May 1, 2013
An Ozark elementary schooler won first place in a statewide Law Day competition sponsored by the Alabama State Bar Association. Jelan Smith will be presented his first place honors at a special ceremony to be held today at 11 a.m. at the Alabama Supreme Court in Montgomery. Smith, a Mixon Elementary school second grader, won first place in the poster category (grades K-3) of the Ala. State Bar’s Law Day Competition.