Dear MBLA Members, Colleagues, Friends and Guests,
WELCOME to the 2021 Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association’s Annual Gala! Whether you are attending in-person or remotely, we are so very grateful for your presence and support tonight and throughout the 2020-2021 program year. It has truly been a year for the record books in terms of programming, advocacy, celebrations and losses. As an organization, we continue to grow stronger with each new challenge and this year was nothing short of said challenges. COVID-19 put the world on its heels and we were all affected mentally, financially and physically. Yet, and despite it all, I believe that we pulled together as a community and made a more conscious effort to check on, support and build up one another. Through endless Zoom conferences and video calls, we became laser focused on what is really important. Family and friends. Taking time to reset and refresh. Mental health. Finding balance.
Since 1973, the MBLA has sought to attract, retain and increase the visibility of Black attorneys. We firmly believe that an inclusive legal community makes for stronger advocacy, new perspectives and increased opportunities for all. Moreover, the MBLA worked to strengthen our legal community by cultivating a strong support network and provide professional development programming.
My goal this year was to not address the existence of the pipeline; but rather, the maintenance. Like any pipe, if you do not continuously perform maintenance and routine check-ups, the pipe can corrode overtime and become unable to perform or complete its purpose. So this year, we introduced new programming, collaborated with other legal organizations and invested in conversations about allyship, diversity and inclusion in all sectors of the legal community. In total, for the 2020-2021 program year, we either lead or co-sponsored thirty-four events. As a society, we have more work to do to ensure justice for all, equality and access. Our great organization is composed of members who do not sit on the sideline but are integrally involved in being change-makers.
It is no coincidence that this year’s honorees embodies all of the qualities necessary to move our legal community, albeit our country, in the right direction – intellect, compassion, tenacity, perseverance and a desire to lift as they climb. I would like to congratulate and acknowledge our legal giants – 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Ralph Martin, II and 2021 Trailblazer Award Recipients Steven Wright and Yalonda Howze. We celebrate your achievements and sacrifices (seen and unseen). Thank you for being wonderful examples and creating long-lasting marks on our legal community.
It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve as President of the MBLA. Thank you to the MBLA Officers and Directors for a job well done. Thank you to my family, friends and colleagues for your continued support. Let’s continue to press forward and achieve greatness together.
Stesha A. Emmanuel