1925 August 1

African-American Lawyers Form National Bar Association

 

African-American lawyers, meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on this day organized the National Bar Association. At the time, African-Americans were denied admission to the American Bar Association (ABA), the principal professional association of lawyers in the U.S. The ABA had admitted at least one African American early in the Twentieth Century, but he was expelled in March 1912, in the context of rising racism in America during those years.

A number of white lawyers refused to join the ABA over the years because it did not admit African-Americans. ACLU General Counsel Arthur Garfield Hays, for example, quit the ABA on April 8, 1943 because of its exclusionary policy. The National Lawyers Guild was organized on February 2, 1937 as a liberal-left professional association for lawyers with a policy of admitting African-Americans.

The ABA finally admitted African-Americans on August 27, 1943.

Learn more about African-American lawyers: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/national-bar-association-1925

Learn more about African American history: Henry Louis Gates, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 (2011)

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