This site uses cookies.

Celebrating Black History Month

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

February marks the start of Black History month in the United States. It’s a valuable time of the year to reflect on the blood-stained past but celebrate the enormous strides that have been made in equality. The national observance of Black History Month began in 1976. President Gerald Ford wanted to honor the neglected history of African-Americans. Until that time, African-American history was virtually nonexistent in books. Though it should be part of our lives every day, Black History Month signifies the improvements that have been made in the equal opportunity of all races in the United States.

The annual festivity is used today as a time to rejoice the achievements of African-Americans throughout American history. In 1926, famous historian Carter G. Woodson created the idea of “Negro History Week”. He chose the second week in February because many momentous events in black history fell on that same week. Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass’ birthdays were both in that week, and the NAACP was founded on February 12. The importance of those three people/groups in the history of African-Americans is unmatched.

Like Carter G. Woodson and Barack Obama, Dennis Hernandez is a Harvard Law graduate. In 1996, at the early age of 28, Dennis established a Florida personal injury law firm in Tampa Bay. The last 27 years have been a homage to the people who need a voice. Like the prominent figures in African-American History, Dennis did not sit back and let innocent people fend for themselves. He has fought for thousands of people of every skin color and will continue to do so for a long time to come. If you’ve been in an auto accident and are in need of a Tampa crash lawyer, Dennis Hernandez & Associates can help you every step of the way.

What better way to celebrate the upcoming Black History Month than by taking a look at some of the most influential black lawyers in American History?

Macon Bolling Allen

Before Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in 1863, Macon Bolling Allen had long been making history. Living in Maine in 1844, Allen passed the bar exam and became the first African-American licensed to practice law. This momentous occasion was part of a series of events that stirred up the crusade to free all African-American people.

Initially, practicing law was difficult for Allen. No whites wanted to hire a black attorney and a small amount of blacks lived in Maine. After the troubles finding work, he moved to Boston and became a Massachusetts Justice of the Peace. That made him the first African American to hold a judicial position in the United States. Thanks to his efforts, practicing law became a possible feat for all African-American people.

Jane Bolin

"Those gains we have made were never graciously and generously granted. We have had to fight every inch of the way."

Like Macon Bolling Allen, Jane Bolin’s life was filled with firsts for the African-American people. Born in 1908 in New York, Bolin became the first black woman to attend Yale Law School. Counselors at her college pleaded with her to not apply to Yale because of her race and gender, but she did anyway and was accepted.

After graduating from Yale in 1931, she took her bar exam and passed the very next year. She then accepted a job at the New York City Counsel’s office, which made her the first black woman to work for the New York Law Department. Jane Matilda Bolin will be remembered for her role in opening the door for not only African-American people, but for all women in law. She lived to see 100 years and only recently passed in 2007. In her lifetime, the lives of black people in the United States changed drastically, from discriminated minorities to members of the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall

“Racism separates, but it never liberates. Hatred generates fear, and fear once given a foothold; binds, consumes and imprisons. Nothing is gained from prejudice. No one benefits from racism.”

Born in the same year as Jane Bolin, Thurgood Marshall was an emphatic player in the civil rights movement. Marshall was instrumental when it came to promoting equality of all people. He is best known as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. He argued 32 different cases, winning 29 of them. In his 24 years of service on the Supreme Court, he represented and won more cases than any other person has.

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was an organized group during the civil rights movement. Marshall was a staff lawyer in that group and would eventually go on to become the Chief of Legal Defense. His success in law was a testament to the person he was. He was an honorable man who defended the advancement of his people until his death in 1993.

Clarence Thomas

“People get bent out of shape about the fact that when I was a kid, you could not drink out of certain water fountains. Well, the water was the same.”

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Clarence Thomas is a judge and lawyer who currently serves on the Supreme Court of the United States. He graduated from Yale Law School and began his journey in the legal world. He is now the most senior justice on the Supreme Court. He is famous for succeeding Thurgood Marshall and is only the second African-American to serve on the court. He is the longest tenured justice on the court currently, going on 28 years of service.

Barack Obama

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

You may not have known our 44th president is an attorney, but he in fact is. Born in Honolulu in 1961, he graduated from Harvard Law School and became a civil rights attorney. After an extensive law career, he ran for president and was elected in 2009.

Barack Hussein Obama became the first African-American President of the United States. He was a major fighter for change throughout his tenure as President. He continues those efforts with his wife Michelle today. His influence has inspired millions of young blacks to follow in his path.

Though the past may be riddled with ruthless cruelty, the present and future of African-American people is brighter than ever. Thanks to these five brilliant people, and countless other powerful American-Americans, black history is celebrated. The lives of blacks throughout the country is better than it has ever been. Young African-American children can become anything they wish to thanks to the change these individuals pushed forward.

DENNIS HERNANDEZ

Dennis started practicing law at just 23 years old. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Duke University and continued to earn law degrees from Florida State University College of Law and Harvard Law School. Blessed with multiple associations, memberships and awards, Dennis graduated from the Trial Lawyers College. Mr. Hernandez is one of only 1,378 attorneys who claim this distinction. In 1996, he founded firm Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A., which concentrates in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability. Dennis is admitted to practice law in all State of Florida courts, The Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Image ©iStockphoto.com/serggn

All information on this site was believed to be correct by the relevant authors at the time of writing. All content is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. No liability is accepted by either the publisher or the author(s) for any errors or omissions (whether negligent or not) that it may contain. 

The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

Excerpts from judgments and statutes are Crown copyright. Any Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of OPSI and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland under the Open Government Licence.