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Message from the Chair, February 2021

February 1st marked the start of Black History Month, a month dedicated to pay tribute to the vast contributions African Americans have made to history and society and to acknowledge the challenges they faced in their diaspora. The Business Law Section remembers groundbreaking black lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall and his immeasurable strides for the civil rights movement throughout his lifetime; Macon Bolling Allen, who became the first black male attorney in the United States in 1844; Charlotte Ray, who became the first black female attorney in  1872; and Jane Bolin, the first female African American judge in the United States in 1939, to name a few.

In 2020, the world unveiled a plethora of lessons around diversity and inclusion; most markedly, were those surrounding racial equality. Leaders and communities are called to wake up, re-evaluate and put an end to structural inequalities and underlying racism. This year, 2021, is a time to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice and equality, as well as a year of rectification where actions are a priority, and transparency, a requirement. At the cusp of featuring Harriett Tubman on the $20 bill, and with our first female Black-Asian Vice President in office, as lawyers, sworn to uphold our Constitution, it is our job to continue to challenge the status quo, to make changes, and stand up against prejudice.

The theme of Black History Month for 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.
In these unprecedented times, this year’s theme is fitting since family is more important than ever. Let us also stop to celebrate Black families, their historic identities and their impact on the world. As we reflect upon this year’s theme, let us continue to strive to create a culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging in the practice of law, in our workplaces, and in our communities. Consider attending our upcoming BLS events aimed to foster diversity and inclusion: Racism in the Workplace on February 24, 2021 at 12 p.m. and Leadership in the Bar on February 25, 2021 at 12 p.m.

I look forward to seeing you in person very soon. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!
Best regards,
Leyza

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