written by Courtney Paul, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at Proskauer Rose LLP

Today, Black History Month is celebrated widely and allows communities to collectively explore and acknowledge black history and culture. Many law firms have embraced the tradition of celebrating annually and engage in targeted programming every February. Below is a round-up of celebrations hosted by ALFDP member firms for Black History Month 2020.

Fenwick & West hosted the Honorable Willie Brown, first black mayor of San Francisco. Brown shared stories about his life and journey to political leadership. He left attendees with a hopeful note on civic engagement, stating, “Not since my generation has there been so much new talent in public service.”

Goodwin Procter’s Boston local council of their Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CRED) went together to see Detroit Red, a play about Malcolm X’s early life in Boston. The play was written by renowned playwright Will Power.

Members of Goodwin’s Boston local council of the Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CRED) at Detroit Red

Holland & Knight collaborated with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to host a conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The New York Times 1619 Project. The project is a landmark initiative that ultimately “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” Holland & Knight Partner Erika R. Royal moderated the discussion.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The New York Times 1619 Project, and Holland & Knight Partner Erika R. Royal

In Canada, Norton Rose Fulbright welcomed Canadian author Esi Edugyen, author of Washington Black. Edugyen spoke about the stories that inspired her to write the book and signed copies. The firm also created and shared a video about the significance of the month and sent representatives to the Black Law Students Association Annual Conference in Quebec.

Esi Edugyen, author of Washington Black, at Norton Rose Fulbright

In New York, Proskauer hosted a series of events, including a conversation with James Grooms, GC of New York Road Runners and firm client, a private screening of the feature film Just Mercy, and a musical and ballet performance featuring violinist Jessie Montgomery and Black-centric ballet collaborative the Black Iris Project. In LA, Tyree A. Boyd Pates, history curator, writer and speaker, joined LA office head Bart Williams for a conversation about cultural competency and black history.

Through heritage month events like these, firms continue to spark meaningful conversations about diversity, inclusion, and culture.

Fana Tesfagiorgis of the Black Iris Project performing A Mother’s Rite at Proskauer