The Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago was founded in 1987 to “address issues unique to African-American women lawyers … improve the administration of justice by increasing the participation of African-American women and other minorities throughout the legal system. To advance civil and human rights.”
Thirty-four years later, I am proud to lead BWLA and witness the organization’s continued success as one of Illinois’s fastest growing bar associations, while remaining true to our mission.
BWLA embodies the Law Day theme, “Advancing the Rule of Law Now.” What encompasses a law is no mystery; however, everyone is not treated equally under the law, often due simply to the color of their skin.
On May 25, 2020, we helplessly watched as George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. This occurred shortly after the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery by law enforcement and vigilantes. While the murder of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement is not a new phenomenon, the world finally took notice and protests erupted globally, including in Chicago.
In response, BWLA quickly formed the Civil Rights Action Committee and trained our members to represent arrested protesters. Additionally, CRAC hosted community town halls with activists and elected officials to advocate for police and criminal justice reform; mobilized a voting rights campaign in the community and partnered with the Illinois Department of Corrections to extend the campaign to returning citizens.
BWLA further advances the rule of law through our Street Law Program, which enables attorneys to educate students on topics such as restorative justice and the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
BWLA is honored to celebrate Law Day and encourages everyone to find ways to advance the rule of law equitably for U.S. society.