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February 01, 2024

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith Re: Black History Month

CHICAGO, Feb. 1, 2024 — As we observe Black History Month, the American Bar Association reaffirms its commitment to addressing significant racial disparities in the legal profession. We honor the work of Black legal trailblazers who have played pivotal roles in the advancement of civil rights, and we recognize the importance of reflection and action in our ongoing efforts to promote diversity and equality within the legal field.

Despite comprising 14% of the U.S. population, Black Americans make up just 5% of the nation's lawyers, highlighting the urgent need for systemic change. The ABA’s commitment to Goal III, eliminating bias and promoting diversity, acknowledges the vital role of a wide range of perspectives in our legal system, essential for effectively serving a diverse population.

Black Americans are integral to the fabric of our country — a country with a history that is fraught and a future we are still striving to perfect. Trailblazers like Thurgood Marshall played pivotal roles in landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, ending racial segregation in public schools. The work of Constance Baker Motley and Charles Hamilton Houston significantly contributed to dismantling segregation and advancing civil rights in the United States. These achievements, among those of countless Black lawyers, have transformed society and propelled us toward a more perfect union.

The ABA urges legal professionals to reaffirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion objectives, assess existing practices critically and actively endorse efforts that advance racial equity in the legal field. This commitment reflects the ABA’s recognition that diversity plays a fundamental role in the pursuit of justice and fairness, extending beyond addressing statistical disparities to champion a more equitable legal profession.

This Black History Month, let us commit to the ABA’s central goals of promoting diversity, inclusivity and racial equity in the legal profession, so that together, we can actively shape a more equitable future.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.