It’s been said that “history is written by the victors” or that “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” or any number of adages that hint at a more meaningful truth: History is subjective; it is imperfect; and what is obscured, manipulated, or left out underlies the evolution of a society. So that’s a lot to take on in one month a year.
“I have mixed feelings about Black History Month … and I get concerned when people try to compartmentalize the discussions of the African American experience into a single month,” retired University of Washington professor Dr. Quintard Taylor tells Washington State Bar News. “But at the same time, I recognize that celebrating the month is a golden opportunity because for the longest time, that is up until relatively recently, people weren’t recognizing Black history, until it was introduced to them by Black History Month. So that being said, I could understand how it would be important for lawyers, attorneys, judges, along with everyone else to be aware of African American history.
Dr. Taylor and his daughter, WSBA member and state Rep. Jamila Taylor, helped found the website BlackPast, which Dr. Taylor describes in a wide-ranging interview as taking African American history “out of the college classroom, out of the ivory tower,” and makes it “available to everybody.” This fascinating interview is the centerpiece of the latest issue of Bar News, which coincides with Black History Month.
G. (Gus) Lindsey III offers his take on the Pacific Northwest from the perspective of a Black lawyer from Georgia. Read his piece and you can learn why despite the “Northwest nice,” he explains “I am still more comfortable, as it relates to race, in the South.” Then take a look at the long history of Black voter suppression, the way it has continued, and the legal battles that have attempted to stamp it out.
In another historic retrospective, but now with a recent shift to fix past wrongs, learn about the Indian Child Welfare Act and the recent landmark decision by the Washington Supreme Court and how it shared a personal connection with the opinion author, Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis.
There are many other interesting articles in this issue, but also sadness after the recent death of the WSBA’s former executive director, Paula Littlewood. Former Washington Supreme Court Chief Justices Mary Fairhurst (ret.), Barbara Madsen, and Debra Stephens share their memories of a beloved friend and colleague: “Paula had a vision of what the WSBA could be and encouraged staff and volunteers to think ‘big’ to make the legal profession in our state the best it could be.”