And Still We Rise
I am a descendant of African slaves from Virginian plantations and Filipino immigrants who came to America in search of opportunity. Without question, the experiences of those who chose to lay claim to America as free men and women stand in contrast to those whom America chose to lay claim through bondage endured for several hundred years. My father was among the first in his family to graduate from college. He and my mother instilled the importance of education as a key to advancement from the time my sister and I were very young. They also shared the legacy of racial hostility, blatant discrimination, and lack of opportunity that scars America’s past and frankly, continues to raise its ugly head to mar the experience of many minorities, even in 2004.
Yet although America has an imperfect legacy, it’s still the land of opportunity. So in 2004, let us take time to reflect upon and commemorate the many strides we have made since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education some 50 years ago.
Think about what life was like before Brown. Consider the level of courage and resolve on the part of the students, lawyers, and civil rights advocates whose contributions helped to shape the post-Brown legacy of which we are beneficiaries. Take pride in how far minorities have progressed, and don’t be discouraged by the fact that America has a lot more work to do to fulfill its promise of “equal opportunity for all.” Instead, let the legacy of where we’ve been and the promise of where we still have to go as a nation fuel your rejection of the status quo wherever and whenever it results in the exclusion of any of us.
This issue of Diversity & the Bar® is a very special one. We trust you’ll enjoy and consider it a “keeper.” It is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of minority in-house attorneys and reflecting upon how Brown was a catalyst behind so many advancements. In the pages that follow, MCCA® publishes the results of our Annual Fortune 500 General Counsel Survey. We spotlight the people of color who, through talent, tenacity, and trust in their abilities, have earned the right to stand as leaders of many of the world’s largest and most successful corporations. They will be the first to tell you that the pipeline is full of many other talented minorities who are equally capable of someday joining their ranks. MCCA is proud to have had the opportunity to seek out and speak with many of them.
In closing, we extend special appreciation to the many organizations that supported the production of this important issue of Diversity & the Bar. Your advertising support enables MCCA to continue to deliver the quality content our readers deserve. We promise to continue to uphold your high standards and keep all eyes focused on how working together, we will reshape this profession.
Veta T. Richardson
From the May/June 2004 issue of Diversity & The Bar®