Old Dominion Bar Association (ODBA), the oldest statewide predominantly African-American bar association in the nation, will celebrate its 75th anniversary May 28-31, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia. For 75 years, ODBA has served as Virginia’s advocates for equal justice. This historic event will be held at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center. The four-day celebration will consist of a host of activities including a President’s Luncheon, golf tournament, a Judicial Luncheon and a black-tie gala dinner and dance. Now in its 75th year, ODBA will celebrate its founders, its fortitude and its future.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as President of a bar association whose members have encountered, withstood and overcome the injustices that confronted minorities in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” says Helivi Holland, Esq., current president of the ODBA. “As we remember and celebrate our past, our passion and courage will help us remain attentive and responsive in the future,” she added.
During its early years, ODBA’s members were instrumental in fighting Jim Crow and dismantling the oppression and havoc of Virginia’s massive resistance movement. Oliver Hill, Sr., ODBA’s first president, along with Samuel Tucker, Spotswood Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall are well-renown not only for their work on Virginia cases related to Brown v. Board of Education, but also for many other legal victories all over the Commonwealth of Virginia related to deprivation of voting rights, discriminatory educational spending, and employment discrimination.
In addition, ODBA has been, and continues to be, actively involved in Virginia’s judicial selection process for both state and federal courts. The historic organization strongly encourages African American attorneys to participate in majority bars, and collaborates with majority bars and various organizations to promote diversity in all aspects of the legal profession, among other things.
“One of the historic highlights of this celebration of which we’re most proud is that the Virginia Supreme Court will convene a special session of Court in honor of the ODBA and host the opening ceremony that will recognize the African American Justices of the Court: Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr., Justice (Retired) John Charles Thomas, Justice Cleo E. Powell, and Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn,” says Beverly A. Burton, Esq., conference chair and past president. “Attorney General Mark Herring and L. Douglas Wilder, 66th Governor of Virginia and the nation’s first elected African American Governor, are featured speakers at this event, which highlights the cultural and historical significance of this gathering,” she offers.
Additional event speakers include Hon. Roger L. Gregory, the first African American to serve on the 4th Circuit of the US Court of appeals and a former president of ODBA; Dr. Steven G. Blunt, President of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, will deliver the keynote address at the President’s Luncheon and the Hon. Angela B. Roberts, Chief Judge of the Richmond J & DR Court, and Virginia’s first female African American Judge, will deliver a keynote at the Judicial Luncheon. The luncheon will recognize Virginia’s African American judicial “firsts”, many of whom will be in attendance, including Hon. (Retired) Willard Douglas, Virginia’s first African American judge.
A one-hour open discussion addressing Virginia’s judicial selection and evaluation process with Justice Cleo Powell and Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond, T. C. Williams School of Law, and moderated by Vinceretta Taylor Chiles, Immediate Past President of the ODBA, will also occur.
For more information about the Old Dominion Bar Association and a schedule of events, please visit: http://www.olddominionbarassociation.com/
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news blog the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.