Posted April 26, 2017 9:37 AM
Updated May 1, 2017 10:09 AM
Cook County Bar Association
By Natalie L. Howse
Natalie L. Howse is an assistant Cook County state’s attorney and president of the Cook County Bar Association.
This year started off with a bang as the Cook County Bar Association and its members showed up to help in the election of Juan Thomas as president-elect at the 91st annual National Bar Association Convention. Thomas is a current board member of the Cook County Bar Association and its first male member to serve in this national position.
We had a high moment of diversity and inclusion this year when our members created the LGBTQ Section.
We hosted two popular town halls with both Trinity United Church and the DuSable Museum of African American History. The first was a continued discussion about the police violence against African- Americans, and the second addressed some economic solutions to stopping the crime in our communities. We held our annual joint November dinner meeting with the Illinois Judicial Council and Black Women Lawyers Association, where we honored our first female president, Judge Arnette Hubbard, giving her the Legal Icon Award.
We partnered with several community organizations to discuss and explain the Department of Justice’s report on their Investigation of the Chicago Police Department. We also educated the public about how to understand and navigate the judicial system.
In response to the DOJ Report and the impending expiration of the Fraternal Order of Police’s collective bargaining agreement, we created an ad hoc committee of board members and past presidents to review and make recommendations in preservation of the people’s constitutional rights.
We still have so much more in store this year, including our annual Law Day celebration on May 5, which also is expected to be a success. This year’s theme, The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy, could not be more appropriate. The CCBA strongly believes that participation is the means to achieve a strong democracy. The African-American community has been engaged in a struggle for participation in the franchise before and since the passage of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment guarantees to the people that the power to transform our democracy cannot be taken away; we must exercise it to make certain it is representative of all of us.
For the 2017-18 bar year, we are continuing our service legacy by Breaking Ceilings and Building Bridges. Some plans include expanding our job fair, conducting a Lawyers in the Classroom series and educating membership about opportunities in technology.