In 1996 I was struggling to pass the bar. I was also a litigant in the courts of Suffolk County. As I looked around the courts I recognized that there were far too few black attorneys, few if any black court clerks, court officers, hearing officers or black judges. In my experience black lawyers rarely stopped to greet and talk to one and other.
Today as we go to our courts there are black court officers, black lawyers practicing and working in the capacity of court appointed counsel, law clerks, law department attorneys, family court hearing officers, Supreme Court Justices, District Court judges. It is likely that you may see two or more black attorneys talking with a black assistant district attorney before conferencing a case before a black judge….this is becoming the rule rather than the exception.
Over the years we have embraced the direction that our past presidents and administrations have taken us. Amistad has developed programs that address the above mentioned issues. Through congeniality, collective support of scholarship and defining a common cause we are making inroads. We are adding value to the professional lives of black lawyers and the black community.
In an effort to continue our growth and influence in the courts and the region overall, we must continue to identify issues and work collectively to achieve a desirable end.
That is why I accepted the nomination as President for the year of 2017. In doing so I have also turned over the mantle of Executive Director to CHERICE Vanderhall, our past president.
As founders Victoria and I know full well that the progress of the organization lies in new blood, new ideas; new talent. We have this amongst us, we have this when we work collectively. We have had fantastic boards with vision and tenacity. Working as part of Amistad’s board is not for the feign at heart! We are all strong personalities, we are all smart people. It has always been our desire to lay aside our personal egos to achieve consensus. We expect to continue in the same fashion and manner.
I would expect that we will continue to thrive as an organization when we continue to work collectively to achieve important goals.
I will call on many of you through out the year. We do not intend to reinvent the wheel rather enhance those programs and efforts that previous administrations have implemented.
As one of my few initiatives I intend to work with the leadership to increase our visibility in our community. We must strengthen our working relationship with community/ civic and civil rights organizations.
We will concentrate our efforts at creating a more visible presence by utilizing our website to the fullest.
Lastly, I will propose to the board a resolution to create several at large seats on our board so as to better develop a deep bench going forward.
Thank you very much for your vote of confidence. I look forward to a prosperous year.