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The Viva, Las Vegas vibes were in full effect during the ABA Midyear Meeting; and the same goes for the Men of Color Project’s (the “MoCP”) Intergenerational Networking Reception!  To say that the event was well attended would be an absolute understatement.  While the MoCP is aimed to build leaders in the law field, facilitate intergenerational support and encourage community service and civic engagement amongst “men of color” in the legal profession, the mix of diversity at the reception was truly a sight to behold.  Among the guests were law students, young lawyers, and seasoned lawyers of every ethnicity, color, and creed.  Indeed, the most rewarding aspect of this event was that there were not only men of color in the room.

Reflecting back on the MoCP’s inaugural program in Charleston, South Carolina focused on mental health and wellness, that forum also featured attendees from a variety of backgrounds.  This level of support and partnership is crucial.  As far as diversity initiatives are concerned, too often we only see representatives from the affected groups standing at the forefront of the cause or mission – by themselves.  To achieve, real, tangible change, it not only requires collaboration from members of the “majority” or the “others” outside of the target group, but it takes all of us.  For instance, when men stand on the front lines for women’s rights issues, or when those without physical limitations advocate for the rights of members of society with disabilities, monumental impact can be created.  At the core of actual advancement is a collaborative, team-oriented spirit.

Back to Vegas.  At networking events it is quite routine to have the patrons simply keep their glasses filled while rotating from one mingling circle to the next.  Here, however, I am pleased to say that the MoCP team did not just rest on their laurels and let such an important moment pass by.  Instead, MoCP leaders and coordinators were honored, shout outs were given to key ABA staff, and the three pillars of the project were highlighted: (1) Vision Development & Execution; (2) Sponsorship & Mentoring; and (3) Mental Health & Wellness.  A large projector was also perched at the front of the packed room displaying the save the date for the first ever “Men of Color Summit” to be held in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2019.

Needless to say, the MoCP is off to a strong start under the leadership of Dave Morrow and ultimately our YLD Chair, Tommy Preston.  Yet as with any great diversity initiative, to have a lasting effect, there must be work we each intentionally undertake within our local communities and workplaces.  I look forward to maintaining the positive momentum generated thus far all the way through the national Summit and beyond.  And I am confident that with this team in place that is exactly what we will do!