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Witnessing History at the 2011 BADC Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Friday, June 17, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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The Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) held its 2011 Annual Meeting and Luncheon on Wednesday, at the Mayflower Hotel.  This meeting was the last official event as President of the BADC for UDC-DCSL Associate Dean of Students Annamaria Steward.  Dean Steward handed the gavel to new BADC president, Gregory S. Smith, and assumed her position as Immediate-Past President.
Also at the meeting BADC honored Representative John R. Lewis (D-GA) and Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) for their participation in the Freedom Rides, a civil rights effort in 1961 to desegregate the South. Attendees of the BADC Annual Meeting realized they were witnessing history as Rep. Lewis recounted the history of the Freedom Rides saying, "They learned a way to get in the way.” Professor John Brittain said of his speech, "Rep. Lewis lit up the room as only he can do.”

Rep. Filner told the audience how he was stopped while riding one of the Freedom Ride buses from Alabama into Mississippi, by the late Rep. Gillespie "Sonny” Montgomery (D-MS), who was then the head of the Mississippi National Guard, forced to uphold segregation. Later on in life Rep. Filner, Rep. Lewis, and

Rep. Lewis (D-GA)

Rep. Montgomery would meet in Congress as Representatives in the Democratic Party. In recounting this story Rep. Filner said, "Only in America could those 3 individuals meet on the floor of Congress later on in life.”

Prof. Brittain felt there was an important juxtaposition between BADC recognizing the courage of the Freedom Riders and Annamaria Steward announcing that it was only 4 years ago that BADC apologized for its own history of discrimination; preventing black lawyers from joining BADC and using their library. As Prof. Britain said, "I thought it was a long time coming in 2008 to apologize for their segregated history.” 

Rep. Filner (D-CA)
After watching the Freedom Riders reunite they sang "We Shall Overcome” and gathered for an impromptu photo shoot. Photos forthcoming.

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