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April 05, 2021 Judicial Division

Chair's Column


By Hon. J. Michelle Childs, Columbia, SC

While we would all like to have the ill effects of COVID-19 to be behind us, let us not forget the sacrifices of the over 500,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide who have lost their lives in this pandemic. May we remember those lost and support those families who have suffered through loss. 

Despite the tragedies of the pandemic, we must also remember to celebrate the many contributions of our fellow Americans. As you know, this past February we celebrated Black History Month. Interestingly, this celebration began as Negro History Week in 1926 in an effort to teach Black history in public schools. It took until 1969 for this one-week period to be expanded to the current format of one month and changed to its current name. Since the 1970s, every U.S. President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

The ABA Judicial Division hosted a Black History Month program entitled Judicial Trailblazers and the Hills They've Climbed:  A Discussion with Preeminent African American Judges and Their Challenges and Triumphs. We recognized the many contributions of outstanding jurists, all of whom have been "firsts" throughout their careers:  The Hon. Carl E. Stewart (first black Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and first black President of the American Inns of Court); The Hon. Roger Gregory (first black judge and first black chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit); The Hon. Bernice Donald (the first black bankruptcy judge in the United States and first black judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit); The Hon. Adrienne Nelson (first black Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court); and Dennis Archer, Esq. (Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and first black President of both the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association). This program was moderated by Dean Danielle R. Holly-Walker of Howard University School of Law, which has graduated the most persons of color for the practice of law in the United States, including Justice Thurgood Marshall. These esteemed jurists shared their journey to the bench, espoused the importance of diversity on the bench, and provided practical advice for law students and lawyers who are interested in either clerking for a judge or becoming a judge. They have certainly made their mark in the historic rolls of this country and in the judiciary and stand as beacons for the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our branches of government and institutions. This complimentary, historical Judicial Division program received rave reviews by the audience and will be available in the Judicial Division's library for years to come.

    Hon. J. Michelle Childs, Columbia, SC

    Hon. J. Michelle Childs, Columbia, SC

    2020-2021 Judicial Division Chair