Bradley Arant Boult Cummings proudly hosted a CLE seminar on Thursday, September 27, at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events that occurred in Birmingham in 1963 as part of the Civil Rights Movement. Bill Baxley and Doug Jones, two prosecutors who bravely brought to justice three of the four Klansmen responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963, were our speakers. Our guests were uniformly complimentary of the program and the Firm’s effort to take time to highlight this remarkable legal story.
The seminar not only commemorated the events of 50 years ago, but it also allowed us to note the longstanding commitment of our Firm to promote diversity and equality. For example, our Firm made the first female law partner of any major firm in the South (and one of the first in the nation) in 1957 – over 50 years ago - with Ms. Ellene Winn. One of our lawyers in 1963 was David Vann, who later became Mayor of Birmingham. During his time at our Firm, David was one of the driving forces advocating for a Mayor/Council form of government to replace the Commission form of government that was dominated by Bull Connor; and he was also one of the principal mediators between the Birmingham business community and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the Spring of 1963, including Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth.
Similarly, our name partner Douglas Arant was instrumental in making sure that Oscar Adams, an African American who had a law degree from Howard University, was permitted to sit for the Alabama Bar when others tried to place obstacles in his way. Later, Arant successfully sponsored Adams as the first African American lawyer to become a member of the Birmingham Bar Association.
Today, we continue to promote our core value of enhancing diversity and inclusion in numerous ways, including by hosting events like the one we sponsored last week and through other programs and efforts such as our diversity scholarship program.