Two of the principles that guide the work and culture at Beasley Allen, diversity and hope, are celebrated throughout the month of April.
Beasley Allen believes that providing a positive and inclusive environment allows the firm to attract tremendously talented attorneys and staff from diverse backgrounds. It understands that diversity is another way the firm can better serve its clients and identify with those in the civil justice system, such as judges and juries, who are charged with delivering justice. The firm has been recognized as a leader in gender and minority diversity after it became the first large firm in Montgomery, Alabama, to name an African-American female attorney as principal, as well as being recognized for having the highest percentage of African-American partners among the top 10 best law firms for black attorneys in the U.S. This forward-looking perspective invokes a sense of hope, which is at the very core of its mission, “helping those who need it most.”
The two principles are also at the heart of a project in the firm’s own backyard. One that is encouraging at a time where hateful and divisive rhetoric is, once again, part of the national dialogue. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum are part of an effort by the nonprofit legal advocacy group, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), to embrace hope and healing by confronting a darker side of the country’s history. The one-of-a-kind landmarks bring to life the stories of those who faced racial inequality and economic injustice throughout the history of the U.S.
The Memorial is the first national monument dedicated to “racial terror lynchings.” It was designed to encourage thoughtful reflection about a part of our nation’s history that is laden with deep wounds, shame and regret. The Museum stands just a block from “one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America.” Together, they take visitors on a journey, stretching back to the darkness of slavery, revisiting the cruelty and humiliation of segregation during the Jim Crow era and the ensuing fight for equality during the Civil Rights movement. Part of the journey also “explore[s] the history of racial inequality and its relationship to a range of contemporary issues from mass incarceration to police violence.”
Beasley Allen founder Jere Beasley says the Memorial is a badly needed educational tool. After learning that not a single member of a recent University of Alabama School of Law class recognized federal Judge Frank M. Johnson as an esteemed civil rights leader, nor his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, he was surprised.
“We have made progress in a lot of areas regarding racial inequality,” said Beasley. “However, if you don’t know the history of the fight for civil rights or the battles people had to be engaged in to achieve some level of success, we’re missing the boat.”
Beasley intends to spread the word about the Memorial and hopes it remains accessible to the public. The former Lieutenant Governor of Alabama anticipates that as the project educates and provides the opportunity for healing, it will also improve the state’s credibility on the national stage. And, he believes it has the potential to move the national conversation in a positive manner.
He explained saying, “Right now, we are more divided than I can recall in my lifetime. There’s more hatred and evil intent and those who ought to be helping people are in fact hurting them. We all have an obligation to change the course and we can be successful when we have the right motivation and a willingness to have an open and respectful conversation.”
Both landmarks will mark their official openings this week and will celebrate with a series of events, including the two-day Peace and Justice Summit beginning on Thursday. Summit speakers will include the Rev. Dr. William Barber, architect of the Moral Monday movement, and chart-topping gospel recording artist Chrystal Rucker. Audiences will also hear from two social justice and civil rights activists who devoted their lives to advancing the plight of women and children in this country, Gloria Steinem and Marian Wright Edelman, along with Vice President Al Gore and others who are leading the contemporary fight for racial and economic justice. On Friday night, participants will enjoy the Concert for Peace and Justice, featuring The Roots, Usher, Common, Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes, and Kirk Franklin, among other special guests.
For additional information about events, hours of operation, or to obtain tickets visit EJI online.
Equal Justice Initiative